What to Expect from a Wingsuit Competition

In the world of extreme sports, some are a bit more extreme than others. You can say that windsurfing is extreme, but compare it to parachuting or base jumping and suddenly, it seems pretty tame (until you get carried away to the open sea). There is a very sudden and clear excitement in parachuting, which is a lot different to other sports. It is direct, meaningful and you can easily comprehend the frailty of humans. Then there is the wingsuit type of parachuting, which means that you use a wingsuit to glide as much as possible through the air, moving towards a destination, until you finally open your parachute and glide your way to the ground. But what about a wingsuit competition? How do those work? Here is a brief explanation.

Richard Schneider from Los Angeles / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Wingsuit Competitions – How They Work

Compared to other competitions, like parachuting, where accuracy might be the only criteria, for example, where you land, and how close to the very center, wingsuit competitions aren’t as simple. All of the criteria are measured in the air, similarly to canopy formation and formation skydiving. The competition measures three parameters of performance for each wingsuit pilot, the least drag, best lift and best glide ratio. These measurements are carried out by using a GPS device which is installed on the wingsuit. The measurements are taken in the competition window, which is between 3000 meters and 2000 meters altitude (AGL or above ground level). The measurements are taken over three different dives, each a different task. The first task is a time task, meaning the longer one stays in the competition window, the better. The second task is the distance task, meaning the longer the horizontal distance one crosses in the competition window, the better. The third and last task is the speed task, meaning the highest average horizontal speed in the competition window. The further one flies, the faster, the better. This type of competition was thought of to negate all sorts of advantages that pilots might have due to the usage of different wingsuits. It is pure piloting, skill is measured, not the equipment.

Richard Schneider from Los Angeles / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Where to Find the Competitions

The best place to find wingsuit competitions is with organizations like FAI and ISC. The FAI Skydiving and Parachuting International Championships are simply amazing. They have plenty of categories, such as accuracy landing, artistic events, canopy formation, dynamic, indoor skydiving, paraskiing, speed skydiving and of course, wingsuit flying. There are plenty of annual competitions, including the World Championships, which are obviously the best events to watch, if you get the opportunity. There are other events all over the world, from different parachuting and skydiving organizations. There most certainly are ones near you, given how almost every country has some sort of skydiving competition.

Richard Schneider from Los Angeles / CC BY (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)

Wingsuit competitions are like other competitions, except faster, more exciting and simply put, energetic and calmful at the same time. Seeing someone glide in the air like a really large colorful bird is a rather calming thought (if not a comic one).