Living without touching the ground
Flying is a human longing that we can exemplify through mythological characters such as Icarus, who tried to reach the sun with his wings.
The great Leonardo da Vinci, left 500 sketches on this topic that he was passionate about and whose knowledege is based on the fundamentals of aeronautics. Among them, the design from which the first hang-glider departes, which he called Ornithopter and spent countless hours watching the flight of birds and insects for his design.
Each valuable second of existence, the brain is in charge of liberating doses of different substances. Scientists describe how, within its catalog of functions, it possesses a “center of rewards”. Once this center receives stimulated through new and challenging surroundings it rewards us generating dopamine - an essential hormone in the production of adrenaline.
There is a common, everyday ingredient, which if we were to take into consideration it would conjure the fear of our lives: Everything can be deadly, that’s life. And yet, the challenge passionate people overcome both in the sky and air has taken this ingredient to the limit.
Something is exposed and bet upon in expense of the cost of time, patrimony, desires… Life is based on imponderables that, more than an exception, are rules and come in all types. They span from simple daily ones to impacting events that establish a before and after, to which some people’s reaction is becoming careful. On the other side, we have those that search for more extreme adventures that the more improbable it is to defy human capability the better, since the adrenaline current will be equivalent.
Thinking about an anthology of extreme sports is a difficult task. Far aways is the time of the 90's when began to know each other, until they reached their peak today.
A flight in free fall
In 2012, the austrian ex-military, paratrooper and BASE jumper from Austria, Felix Baumgartner, as a part of a scientific mission, performed a jump that established a free fall height record in force even today. He jumped from a 39,000 m from a space capsule in the stratosphere and reached a falling speed of 1,432 km/h. As if that weren't enough, to achieve heigh, the space capsule was lifted by a balloon, which also meant a new world record.
The jump was live streamed and observed globally with expectation. A second before plunging into the abyss, Felix Baumgartner said: “Now I’m going home”. A few minutes after a supersonic fall the parachute opened successfully and he posed firmly on the ground.
The visual experience of the film from his helmet is incredible, but it is nothing compared to the emotions lived by the intrepid astronaut. A truly extrahuman act, although Baumgartner said it wasn’t a prowess, instead referred to it as a scientific experiment.
Wings and more sky
Flights everywhere, from mountains to cliffs and even skyscrapers in the world’s greatest cities. It is said that the riskiest one is the base jump, where the flyer’s error margin is considerably reduced. This because of its proximity to the ground when facing a jump of nearly 60 meters, which turns out to be a minimal distance when it comes to a controlled landing. These athletes have only one opportunity to succeed.
Wingsuit flying requires height, moderate wind and good weather; in order to perform it there is an essential requirement, a special aerial suit that expands its wings amid fall. In 2019, one hundred people created the shape of a diamond in the sky using this technique.
The innovative and extreme athlete Rex Pemberton, had a dream of flying with the aid of his jet propulsed X-Wing. Years of development and led him to star in the first flight of his model succesfully.
Living the excitement of flying as if one had wings has been accomplished in more than one ways: paragliding or toppler, that represents the most contemporary design of delta wings. Among other challenges, free style consists on jumping off cliffs to reach new world records.
Flyers are becoming everytime more and more daring. The Aerial acrobats achieve progressive synchronicity and dexterity, so the permanence and diversity of the extreme flying sports is guaranteed.
Flying at ground level
The execution of Parkour only depends on the abilities and capacities of the human body. It was invented in France by David Belle. Inspired by martial arts and military training, Parkour exerts some kind of magic on the young. This causing the number of traceurs (term used to define practitioners) to constantly increase in any and every part of the world.
The speed they reach depends on the pirouette at the edge of each hinge, eaves, rook, park benches, stair railings where they manage to fly from second to second, up and down the skycrapers; at the edge of the bridges; in such a vertiginous way that the observer ends up seeing them suspended without a break in the air. To be and to last is the axiom they repeat while flying at ground level.
Text: Maruchy Behmaras ± Photo: Felix Baumgartner, FY / El Fly, iStock / Ft, Ply, Alprew, PNYT, Zoom Fliyu, V7, National Geographic