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aspiringwriter

Is Niagara possible?

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Hi all, I hope you'll allow me to explain myself. I'm not a skydiver, parachutist, or anything like that, I'm a writer. It'll soon be obvious that I know nothing about your sport, but I've got a question that I hope someone will be good enough to answer: Would it be possible for a highly skilled individual to birdsuit over the top of Niagara Falls, and then parachute into the river?

I know this would be incredibly dangerous and very illegal, and I have no intention of trying it. I've read about the young man who lost his life trying to jet-ski off the falls and then parachute down, and I know there's a $10,000 fine for going over.

However, I'd like to have my character try it. I've been doing some online research, and it seems that a birdsuit/wingsuit can fly at a 2.5:1 angle in the control of a skilled pilot. From what I can find, a parachute can do 3:1. I made up a model of the Falls and added in my character's projected flight path (see attachment). She would come in out of the south, trying to go over the top of Horseshoe Falls about 50m (~150 feet) over the lip, and then pop her chute once over the brink. She's aiming for the right side of the river where the water is calmer, and has about 300 feet (150 foot waterfall + 150 of air over the top of the falls) to get down using her parachute. She'll be picked up by the Maid of the Mist and the RCMP will handle her accommodations for the evening.

Problems I can think of:
1. 300 feet isn't enough to get control of the parachute while trying to unzip your birdsuit.
2. The mist off the falls might cause problems with her chute.
3. She might drown getting tangled in either the lines or the birdsuit.

So, is this do-able? If not, are there any changes you could suggest to make it do-able, or is it just a stupid and impossible idea that I should chuck in the waste-bin right now?

Thank you very much for reading.

-Iain

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First question is what is she jumping from, plane heli etc?

This is more of a BASE jumping question but 300ft is probably doable in terms of unzipping the wingsuit and then landing

As you have already thought the winds and spray generated by the waterfall are probably the biggest hazard. These could cause the parachute to collapse or be tossed around violently

Landing in water in a wingsuit is not something you want to do either. It is going to fill up with water and prevent you from swimming. Similarly you do not want to get tangled in the parachute. Probably doable if the boat is already in the landing area. You could even land on the boat if it is large enough

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Remember if you are writing fiction/action type stuff it does not have to be super accurate,,,just enough to make it seem like it would work. It's all in the writing,,i've read plenty of stuff that i know would be unrealistic or impossible ( most action movies ) but was enjoyable because it fit the character, and the writing captivated,,,so there for enjoyable. Good luckB|
smile, be nice, enjoy life
FB # - 1083

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One thing you should realize is that canopy deployment (popping the chute) is not instantaneous. In very broad terms because of different gear characteristics, it can take 500 to 1000 ft of altitude for a skydiving parachute to fully deploy.

There are ways to shorten that up significantly, and the world of BASE jumping would be the best source of accurate figures. But suffice it to say that even the shortest deployment possible likely to take in excess of a hundred feet if the jumper intends on surviving without injury. (I'm not a BASE jumper).

In the end, it's your story, and as mentioned in earlier posts it's more about the enjoyment of the story than complete accuracy of the tale.

Cheers,
When making the decision to downsize: It's your life, don't spend it all on one canopy

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First off, it's good to see you are trying to get it right.

As was said above, the facts don't need to be perfect. We all understand the "realities" of fiction.

BUT...
Get the terminology right. You can get away with a lot of "massaging" of the truth if you say it correctly.

Wingsuit. Not "birdsuit"
Canopy. Not "chute"
Deploy, pull or pitch. Not "pop"

As far as the plot points: getting out of a plane or helicopter, flying over the lip of the falls, pitching once clear of the edge and landing on the boat.

Those are all realistic and doable. The control of the wingsuits, opening from a low altitude, landing accuracy and flying through the spray are all reasonable.

The spray/mist wouldn't be a huge problem. I've jumped in rain. It hurts and I had to lay my canopy out for a while to let it dry before I packed it, but it flew in the rain just fine.

The turbulence from the falls may well be a problem. Fabric wings are notorious for collapsing in turbulence. But, AFAIK, the turbulence from the falls is pretty localized.

Landing location will be important. Doing a "regular" jump into water is challenging, but not that big of a deal. Water landing training is a requirement for a B licence in the US.
Water landings in wingsuits, however, are pretty dangerous. One of the experienced instructors did some testing in a pool a few years ago and posted the results. Basically, the jumper is wearing a nylon straight jacket that quickly fills with water. Bad news.

Deployment altitude isn't that big of a deal. There are BASE guys that routinely pull at less than 300 feet. They use specific packing techniques to speed up the opening of the canopy. Terms like "Slider down" or "mesh slider" are good places to start looking.
And there are wingsuits designed so that the jumper can reach the steering toggles and control the canopy without having to unzip. Regular wingsuits also have cutway systems that let the jumper pull one handle and unhook the wings (it's a pain to re-thread them though).

Landing on the Maid of the Mist wouldn't be a big deal. IIRC, it has pretty big decks. BASE guys are usually pretty good at accuracy landings. They often have fairly small landing areas, sometimes cluttered with big obstacles like rocks and things. You still might be better off having the character land on shore.

This jump would not be a trivial exercise. You state "highly skilled" in your post. That would be a necessity. Several thousand jumps, hundreds of BASE jumps, hundreds of wingsuit jumps. Minimum.

You can search some of the terms I've used, both here and over on Basejumper.com.
"There are NO situations which do not call for a French Maid outfit." Lucky McSwervy

"~ya don't GET old by being weak & stupid!" - Airtwardo

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I almost jumped the lookout tower on the American side. I was on the object. but with no way to get out once you land. you'd have to camp out at the bottom and wait for the tower to open then try and sneak back up with a rig. no fucking way would you jump a damn wingsuit into that mess.
Flock University FWC / ZFlock
B.A.S.E. 1580
Aussie BASE 121

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For reader information. See pictures taken from the Canadian side. This is why you only see the American side of the Niagara Falls. The Canadian part of the Falls is in shape of a horseshoe (unseen on the picture), located just behind the streetwalk where you see bypassers on one picture.
Learn from others mistakes, you will never live long enough to make them all.

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no. 300 feet, even in the most advanced wingsuits on the market flown by the most skilled pilots, take probably at LEAST that much altitude and probably more to start to fly forward. there would be no point in donning a wingsuit from such low altitudes. i am not yet a wingsuit BASE jumper but anyone will agree with that. if im wrong, then fuck me sideways!

now what you should think about is sending her on a pontoon style raft/boat, fitted with a giant circus cannon. as she approcahes the falls, you could have her shot out at a 45 degree angle over the falls. at that trajectory, its likely that a BASE specific canopy would open up and put her in the water or possibly even on shore (i have not visited niagra before), where she would of course have a comrade waiting to pick her up with a jetski (water landing) and deliver her to the comfort of the safe, dry shore, where she could then hop into a car and speed off to safety.
gravity brings me down.........

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>no. 300 feet, even in the most advanced wingsuits on the market flown by the most
>skilled pilots, take probably at LEAST that much altitude and probably more to start to
>fly forward.

Exiting an airplane, you start out with airspeed instantly and keep it. It's definitely possible.

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... As far as the plot points: getting out of a plane or helicopter, flying over the lip of the falls, pitching once clear of the edge and landing on the boat.

... Landing location will be important. ... Water landings in wingsuits, however, are pretty dangerous. One of the experienced instructors did some testing in a pool a few years ago and posted the results. Basically, the jumper is wearing a nylon straight jacket that quickly fills with water. Bad news. ...

...................................................................................

Agreed!

One of my customers landed his wing-suit in the fjord below a famous Norwegian cliff. He twisted one knee so bad that he will never walk straight again.

Far easier to land your hero on the Maid of the Mists.
How big is her largest flat, open deck?

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Thanks a million for the vocabulary lesson. I've got no problem if I sound dumb, but my character is supposed to be an expert, no way she can get away with it. I hadn't thought of landing on the boat itself. I'll have to look into that, my original plan was for her to land on the little river-level bank on the east side of the river, just past the horseshoe. Might still do that, although from Google Earth it looks like a broken leg waiting to happen.

Again, thanks to everyone who has chimed in to help out with this, its going to be a much better story for your help.

-Iain

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aspiringwriter

Thanks a million for the vocabulary lesson. I've got no problem if I sound dumb, but my character is supposed to be an expert, no way she can get away with it. I hadn't thought of landing on the boat itself. I'll have to look into that, my original plan was for her to land on the little river-level bank on the east side of the river, just past the horseshoe. Might still do that, although from Google Earth it looks like a broken leg waiting to happen.

Again, thanks to everyone who has chimed in to help out with this, its going to be a much better story for your help.

-Iain



I'd like to add to the vocabular list.
When you pull the paracute you actually throw a pilotchute.
It's a smal round parachute placed in a pouch on the right side at waist height.
Look at any picture of sky or BASE rig and you will see the handle.

Also mentioned earlier was slider down. Don't use that term.
It's not realsitic that a person jumping from an airplane/heli will pack a parachute slider down.

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Quote

Also mentioned earlier was slider down. Don't use that term.
It's not realsitic that a person jumping from an airplane/heli will pack a parachute slider down.



If they're a secret agent planning some shit close to the ground, they just might.

Bottom line: if they happen to have their rig packed for a normal skydive, you're right. But if this is done as a planned situation, they could definitely pack with a mesh slider, or slider down. Tho the mesh slider would be the less messy option considering she'd want to have the biggest suit available if she needed to go as flat as possible.
Remster

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Remster

Quote

Also mentioned earlier was slider down. Don't use that term.
It's not realsitic that a person jumping from an airplane/heli will pack a parachute slider down.



If they're a secret agent planning some shit close to the ground, they just might.



Eh?
Are you serious?
You know the gear is not meant to work if you deploy slider down/off at full speed?

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