Here’s how one MR reader spent his summer vacation:


beautiful but seems like a waste of time

Humans really are incredible.
But that is so far from my daily experience that it’s almost alien to me. Amazing.

Get a drone, watch the video.

I have watched lots of POV sky diving videos- they don't compare to the real thing.

The flying suit thing, though, is a bit more dangerous than I would do myself- they seem to fly too close to some obstacles for my sense of safety- in other words, if you lose control at the wrong moment, nothing can save you, even that chute on your back.

Yeah, skydiving is actually pretty safe, at least as it's usually done recreationally. I very much understand why people would want to do this, but it's _way_ outside my risk / reward curve.

The "ground effect" comes into play. Since air molecules bounce off the ground their is a little uplift once you get close to it. You can see them relying on it in parts of the video. To cover the horizontal distance they do they pretty much have to get close to obstacles.

Reminds me of Dave Barry's history of ski-jumping: "Ski-jumping developed in Norway as a form of mental illness because there is nothing to do there in winter except pay taxes."

I said the same thing to Michael when he was painting the Sistine Chapel.
"What's wrong with a nice coat of gloss?" I said.

I was thinking the same thing.

How do you measure what’s worth your time? Many people work to achieve happiness, skipping vacations while they brown nose their boss, and still fail to do so. I assume that gliding over a Swiss mountain range as if he is a bird brings him immense happiness. That seems worthy of his time.

Carl, in order to pull off a feat like that, you likely have to devote considerable time. In my opinion this is a dangerous activity that's pretty worthless. I view things as worthwhile if they promote having a healthy and comfortable life, and also things that lead to greater intellectual insights. Sorry to be a snob but this is neither.

...that people aren't free to spend their time how they best think it can make them happy. I'm glad Mr. wolf is here to remind us of that.

Solve for the equilibrium

And winner for best comment goes to ... Hadur. I’d laugh if I didn’t feel so guilty watching videos like these. We know how this story is going to end.

and your story (or mine) will end differently?

Well, I don't expect to be a bug smacking into a dam, but who knows how it will end for me.

I hope it's not by being hit by a base jumper falling out of control from the sky ;)

That wasn't flying! It was falling... with style!

Damn...damn….I just went for the same line below...should have checked the feed...

Lake has rather an ominous name methinks.

Those guys are extremely skilled. At first I thought it was just a drone.

Bonus trivia: you notice the concave concrete dam (curved side faces the water, since concrete strongest when under compression not tension) are used in places where soil is scarce (like in the Hoover dam). That's because it's actually safer and easier to build a huge earth dam, like the kind that was leaking in California a few years ago. Concrete dams fail catastrophically, causing a wall of water to move downstream (that you can actually outrun, though it is moving at the speed of a running man), while earth dam fail gradually (just like the one in California) giving more time to evacuate. Damn that Ray is smart!

Wingsuit flying arguably was invented by a nameless Chinese back in the Ming? dynasty. The story goes the man was in a glider of some sort, flew for a while, but the emperor was so afraid that this invention would change the power structures that he executed him. Human ingenuity (rare) vs human inertia (the default behavior, for evolutionary reasons). Another reason why patents, if they were around back then and enforced, would have resulted in a cure for cancer *and* flying cars by now.

Cancer isn't a 'thing', it is a category. We'll sooner have "a cure" for crime than we will for "cancer".

But the mortality rate per 100,000 people falls every year:

1991... 215 (peak)
2000... 198
2010... 169
2016... 156 (last official)
2019... 149 (based on the trend)
2029... 30 (you heard it here first)
Since 2000, 40% of the decrease has been due to fewer smokers. Treatments will be much better in the 2020s.

That's because it's insane.

That's the Lac de Mauvoisin :
And the Mauvoisin Dam:

With the Grand Dixence Dam they are the two tallest in Switzerland:

And the mountain ridge they are following is the ridge going to La Ruinette, which is a mountain nearby:

I was born not far from there. Lovely place to hike. :-)

What a nasty bunch of people.

I think the vast majority of people, even MR readers, are amazed by this. Ignore the comments.

A carefully amoral blog attracts gleefully amoral followers.

Argentavis magnificens was the largest flying bird known to exist, with a wingspan of perhaps 5 to 7 meters and a weight of about 70 kg. It probably relied on wind-assisted takeoffs from the foothills of the Andes, but still.

This suggests it ought to be possible for something human-sized to not merely glide but actually fly. Jump off a tower and let AI-controlled wings unfurl automatically and fly you while you text your friends. Air traffic control would be handled peer-to-peer between AIs. It might have ultralightweight solar panels and a kite-like sail, reconfiguring on the fly (literally) to take advantage of winds and updrafts.

You want flying cars? There's your flying car.

No. Sorry.

There's absolute energy requirements you need to keep a given mass airborne indefinitely at 1 atmosphere; you need so much lift, which means a certain speed, surface area, and coefficient of lift, which means a certain level of air resistance to overcome, which means a certain level of work...

Bottom line; a little bit beyond sustainable human muscle power.

Cool video! Better use of vacation time than sitting on a beach.

Looks fun!....but too crazy for me. Spectacular comment Hafur.

I’m told by my wing-suiting friend that when something goes wrong (i.e. you no longer have control and start to tumble) it’s called “whistling in”. Because of the sound it makes. He’s know many friends who’ve whistled in. Yikes.

Nice to see both right AND left wing on display here.

Just think of all the CO2 that was emitted so these rich guys could film a stunt. It's obscene. HOW DARE THEY

The cost of making it carbon neutral would be pretty trivial compared to cost of the wing suits etc. Perhaps you should write them a letter suggesting it?

Joe Rogan interviewed a notable base jumper / flying suit guy about the history of the sport / hobby. The entrepreneurs in the field are all men and a low double digit percentage is dead.

So it's interesting that the west's Regulators allow such risks - but it gives me hope for the future. There must be high tension in FAA meetings between statists and normals when the subject is flying suits.

Then again, there's no call to ban motorcycles either - although importing certain Lotus models is a felony.

"So it's interesting that the west's Regulators allow such risks - but it gives me hope for the future. There must be high tension in FAA meetings between statists and normals when the subject is flying suits."

Or maybe you should seek treatment for your paranoia.

The low technicity of the flight (no motor) is exhilarating.
But is it really so? Could an approximation of such a flight have taken place 200 years ago (before Faraday and Sturgeon invented the electric motor) with the cloth available in 1820?

Maybe. You just need a tight, impervious membrane with some degree of strength. Treated silk? Even primitive materials wouldn't add too much weight to a glider.

But where do you launch from? A balloon?

BASE jumping doesn't require any aircraft. There are probably some places, even if they're artificial structures on top of a peak, where it could have been done.

Even if you could make a wingsuit 200 years ago, you can't land with one. Every wingsuit flight ends by deploying a parachute.

The earliest parachutes were somewhat delicate things that you might use to basejump from a standstill position, from a hot-air balloon or a tall building. But you need a foldable backpack parachute if you want to deploy it while hurtling through the air at high speed in a wingsuit, and those weren't invented until the eve of World War One.

Good point. Though to be fair, there's no practical difficulty in building a foldable parachute with 1820's tech, right?

OTOH, I'm waiting for someone to land a wingsuit on a moving flatbed (70mph?). It's gotta be possible. Come on, extreme sport enthusiasts...

Not every wingsuit flight ends by deploying a parachute, only the successful ones.

Paging 617 Squadron...

That's not flying.

That was falling, with style.

It's a surprise that Alex did not mention that the absence of regulations makes base jump + wingsuit legal in Switzerland.

Also, there's a lot of unwarranted pessimism. Not all base jump accidents end in death. It's curious to read on the paper that someone forgot to get rescue insurance and has to cover 100% of the rescue costs. The joke is that this invoice will make you want to have died on the accident =)

These guys don't have much longetivity, on average not more than a few years...
As for the technical side: everything they use is high-tec - the design of the wingsuit, the materials of both the wingsuit and the parachute, the parachute lines... I think you could probably do it 100 years ago - once.

Every cool, fun thing has a trail of keyboard naysayers who are committed to their refusal to appreciate joy even from afar.

Thread winner, +5 internet points

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