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Westerly

How popular is wingsuiting?

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Just about everyone and their mother says that they want to try 'squirrel suiting,' but of course most of them dont follow through. So I am curious, what percentage of licensed jumpers fly a wingsuit or would consider wingsuiting their main disciple? I am not talking about 'I once flew a suit way back when'. I'm talking about someone who owns a suit and flies it regularly enough that they at least have a very basic wingsuiting skillset.

My guess, 20%.

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I agree. On the busiest WS days I've seen at a DZ where WS is very popular it approaches 20% of the fun jump population...maybe.

I think 5% is a good guess. It obviously varies from DZ to DZ but I would guess that good old fashioned belly flying is by far the most popular discipline.
Apex BASE
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It's tough to say. I think the everyone wants to wingsuit is overrated because reality says WS base and terrain flying is dangerous. However, I've seen full otter loads of wingsuits on some days. Other days there are few if any. What percentage is deceiving though.

First what is the percentage of people with over 200 jumps that are current and jump often. Then how many of those actively wingsuit. USPA doesn't have a wingsuit rating or anything so its really difficult to track. At bigger drop zones where there is a support network and skilled pilots its probably pretty high. Smaller DZs might not have coaches to teach it and then not enough people to regularly jump with.

I would probably liken it more to the number of women who jump which is supposedly 13%. My DZ some days has almost a 50/50 split and more women wingsuiters than men. So including the vast majority its probably actually pretty low.

Keep in mind wingsuiting is another investment people have to make after buying a rig. Their rig or canopy might not be too wingsuit friendly so even if they try it they may never progress past a first flight course.

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husslr187

Agreed. I would think its closer to 5% and that's being generous. I've been seeing more tracksuits lately as well

On a side note, I've always wondered what the point in flying a tracking suit was. It just seems like a lower performance version of a wingsuit. Granted, I've only done a few tracking suit jumps and they were done with the intent of getting ready for wingsuiting, but I've always wondered, if you like tracking suits enough to buy one, why not just get a wingsuit?

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Just about everyone and their mother says that they want to try 'squirrel suiting,' but of course most of them don't follow through.


Here is how that went for me:
1. When I started (at age 50) I was definitely interested in skydiving as such, but, as so many, I was absolutely fascinated by proximity wingsuiting videos on YouTube. My thought was: "Sure, I will probably never do this close to the ground, but up in the air wouldn't be that dangerous, and I could fly close to clouds to get a similar experience."
So my intention was 100% to get into wingsuiting after my 200th jump.

Now that I reached my 200th jump a couple months ago I find myself not at all in a rush to put on a wingsuit. Why? What has changed?

1. I have discovered so much more about skydiving and the many disciplines and possibilities. When I started I had no idea that there was such a thing as 4-way FS (belly) and that it could be so much fun. I had no idea that I could become part of a team and seriously train for participating in the Nationals next year. I knew little about freeflying either, and much less about how difficult but also fun that can be, and how much training it would need to get even semi-decent at it. (same for tracking and angle-flying)
So there is plenty to get into, even without a wingsuit.

2. I have also learned more about the real dangers or concerns about wingsuiting (and some of these might also not be real, but just an indication that I've heard and seen more, but never actually DONE it yet). I am much more concerned about the additional complexity: additional stuff I'd have to do under canopy, less freedom of movement for EPs, etc. and also a bit of a concern about deployments (reaching the handle over the wing, line-twists, hard openings) Lastly: I am more aware of the costs and possible equipment changes required...after having spent so much on my skydiving equipment already.

3. I am aware of how much great skydiving also depends on the right people to jump with. I have finally established some friendships and community around the types of jumps I currently do. Finding the people to do wingsuit jumps with (considering I'll be a total beginner with a low-performance suit) seems like a whole other daunting task, and it seems that if I want to make this worthwhile, I would have to really commit to wingsuiting (and not just do it every now and then between belly FS and freefly jumps)

I do still think I want to do it at some point, for sure, but I am in no great hurry at this time. My guess is that similar things may have happened for others.

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On a side note, I've always wondered what the point in flying a tracking suit was. It just seems like a lower performance version of a wingsuit.


I'm actually more drawn to that right now. Doing a first jump BASE course is still something that I am (at least in theory) drawn to, and going to a few walls in Switzerland, Italy or Norway is still a dream. So: Learning to control a simple 2-piece tracking suit well enough to get it flying as quickly as possible, seems like a really good idea (and fun enough, even if I never jump a sub-terminal or terminal wall)

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Westerly

***Agreed. I would think its closer to 5% and that's being generous. I've been seeing more tracksuits lately as well

On a side note, I've always wondered what the point in flying a tracking suit was. It just seems like a lower performance version of a wingsuit. Granted, I've only done a few tracking suit jumps and they were done with the intent of getting ready for wingsuiting, but I've always wondered, if you like tracking suits enough to buy one, why not just get a wingsuit?

The people I've seen with them also do BASE. Not saying that only basejumpers use them bit it seems to be a common theme

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At our dz, it’s common to see 20-30% of every load wearing wingsuits. Of the remainder of the folks on each load, probably another 20-30% are current wingsuit pilots. 10 way and larger w/s jumps are a fairly common occurrence.

I wouldn’t expect that to be the norm at too many other places.

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CrashProne

At our dz, it’s common to see 20-30% of every load wearing wingsuits. Of the remainder of the folks on each load, probably another 20-30% are current wingsuit pilots. 10 way and larger w/s jumps are a fairly common occurrence.

I wouldn’t expect that to be the norm at too many other places.



kpow or perris?

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Westerly

if you like tracking suits enough to buy one, why not just get a wingsuit?



I agree if you want to wingsuit, just get a wingsuit.
I only got a tracking suit because I wanted to get into BASE and now I love tracking, it is a different feeling to flying a wingsuit and better in some ways, but if I was just skydiving I'd probably just be wingsuiting.

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At my small-ish DZ (Grand caravan, maybe Otter if they get busy), quite often I am the only one with a wingsuit on loads. They do WS coaching weekends or FFC weekends, and then you see more people wearing a dress.

It is frustrating, because I love to wingsuit but not often I get to do it with others. So I am just working on my flight performance solo. One of the reasons I am not that great keeping formation with others. I am considering going to another DZ next summer. They have much larger WS community. Just a lot less creature comforts in DZ vicinity...

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Westerly

I heard a pro wingsuiter state that he thinks there are about 5,000 active wingsuiters worldwide (BASE and skydive). Does that sound about right?



Sounds right-ish. That feels in line with the 5% of total skydivers that people were guessing up thread. I can't imagine the number of BASE wingsuiters would be very high (people who don't WS skydive that much, only BASE). Access to jumpable objects and the time it takes to develop the skills would make it an exclusive club.
It's flare not flair, brakes not breaks, bridle not bridal, "could NOT care less" not "could care less".

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