The first controlled dock between a canopy pilot and a skydiver in freefall is a fact! In the skies of DeLand, Florida, around four o'clock in the afternoon on April 17th, Jari Kuosma, wearing a Skyflyer wingsuit, did a controlled dock on the ankle of Vladi Pesa who was flying his Performance Designs Velocity 84. Kuosma is the president of BirdMan, Inc. and has 2100 jumps in total, 1100 of those are wingsuit jumps. Pesa has 8,000 jumps and is an experienced canopy swoop competitor, AFF JM, tandem master, and a BirdMan instructor.
Videographer Todd Sutherland, flying his Skyflyer along side of Kuosma, was there to capture the magic moment.
Pesa wore a weight bag of 30 pounds; his wingloading was 3.5 to 1. His canopy risers were specially designed for this project in order to increase the speed and vertical decent of his Velocity.
This was Pesa's and Kuosma's 17th attempt trying to close the gap between canopy and wingsuit.
"We flew in close formation - within inches away from one another - during the last six attempts," said Kuosma, "but I had a hard time closing that final gap since I was at the edge of my Skyflyer's performance envelope."
"This flight was the physically hardest of all," said Kuosma. "Unfortunately Vladi's canopy turned 180 degrees on deployment, which made him travel at a high rate of speed in the opposite direction of what we had planned. Todd and I almost lost our faith, Vladi seemed to be miles away and there was no way he was able to see us on the horizon. Just prior to break off, though, we saw each other and I just went for it."
On this attempt I tried a new angle of attack. In past jumps, I had been flying above Vladi's canopy, just off the edge of his wing and arching to come down to his ankle. This time I still flew parallel to and above his canopy, but further away horizontally; I got to his ankle by doing a vertical side slide," Kuosma says.
Break off was planned at 5000 feet to give Jari time to safely deploy and Vladi the chance to unlock his risers and prepare for an intense landing.
"The weirdest part was looking at Jari breaking off and deploying his parachute right next to me while I was already under canopy," said Pesa. "How are the landings you wonder? - FAST !!"
A Larsen & Brusgaard ProTrack recorded Jari's average vertical speed at 35mph. The two estimate their forward speed at 60-70mph.
The two are planning to do more attempts in the next few days in order to get better video and still footage to show the world. It is not an easy task to capture such a unique stunt on film. "Southerland is doing a great job staying with us though," says Kuosma.
Kuosma and Pesa warn jumpers to not attempt this stunt without consulting them. You can contact Kuosma at the BirdMan office, (386) 785-0800 or Pesa at (386) 801-6295.Wing Suit Discussion Forum
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