Andy Farrington of the United States won the world’s first Red Bull Aces Wingsuit 4 Cross Race in the skies over the central Californian town of Oakdale on Thursday, flying at speeds of up to 135 miles per hour (217 km per hour) and beating three other rivals in the final down a slalom course in the premiere of the new sport. In the high-speed, high-altitude race through four stationary gates that started with a leap from the back hatch of a sky van airplane at 7,000 feet and descended to the finish line at 3,500 feet, Noah Bahnson (USA) took second and Julian Boulle (South Africa) was third in a field of 52 of the world’s best Wingsuit racers from 16 countries.
“This is just amazing, cutting edge and really the start of a revolution,” said Farrington, a professional sky diver who did stunt work in the film “Transformer 3” of his historic victory in the new sport that is attempting to make Wingsuit flying safer with the start and finish at higher and safer altitudes. “This is racing and this is the way to hold a competition. You are racing the people right next to you, at the same time and on the same, set course – just like in any other sport. Just like in ski racing, it’s cut and dry. You either make the gate or you don’t. You either finished ahead of the other guy or you didn’t. And you’re doing it all thousands of feet in the air.”
The race format is in essence ski cross in the sky with four Wingsuit racers flying against each other at a time in a test of skill and courage as they navigated the slalom course. From the start at 7,000 feet, the racers descended at accelerating speeds to the first of four gates (at 6,500 feet) and then to the subsequent gates and the finish line (at 3,500 feet). The racers then pulled their parachutes at a safe altitude of about 3,000 feet. Farrington set a course record of 40:16 seconds in the final.
American Katie Hansen was the best of five women in the race that does not differentiate between male and female and made it into the top 32.
Results Red Bull Aces:
1. Andy Farrington (USA)
2. Noah Bahnson (USA)
3. Julian Boulle (RSA)
4. Jhonny Florez (COL)
5. David Covel (USA)
6. Sebastian Alvarez (CHL)
7. Jason Moledzki (CAN)
8. Charley Kurlinkus (USA)
Photographers: Joerg Mitter, Balazs Gardi