May 18, 2015

"I know it’s insane to think that I could fly. But to make it possible, you truly have to believe in it — to go to a place that’s not accepted."

Said the extreme climber, Dean Potter, who would rock climb, then jump using one of those fly-squirrel-style wingsuits.
Saturday evening he died in a base jumping accident at Yosemite National Park. He and a fellow jumper were found dead below Taft Point, a 7,500 foot cliff overlooking the park’s famous valley. Their parachutes were never deployed.
So, 2 men died, with neither parachute deployed. Was that a game of chicken or some freak wind shear experience?
“I’m addicted to the heightened awareness I get when there’s a death consequence,” he told ESPN. “My vision is sharper, and I’m more sensitive to sounds, my sense of balance and the beauty all around me. A lot of my creativity comes from this nearly insane obsession. Something sparkles in my mind, and then nothing else in life matters.”

37 comments:

Michael K said...

"nothing else in life matters."

Ok then.

Sharc 65 said...

Role model to narcissists with death-wishes everywhere. RIP.

Laslo Spatula said...

No paper or scissors involved, but Rock wins again.

I am Laslo.

Paul said...

It's just another two Darwin Award winners.

NotquiteunBuckley said...

I wonder if he would have preferred heroin, had it been socially acceptable, to adrenalin rushes?

Thank God I am too cowardly to engage in either, at least since I sold my CR 500 and CBR 600 years ago.

Related, the response "'cause it's there" to the query "Why climb xxx" doesn't work for me. Everything on Earth is there, where it's at, so choosing one specific spot (e.g. Everest) involves more than just the existence of the place.

traditionalguy said...

That seems so old fashioned...manned flight the way it was done before the Wright Brother's improvements.

Xmas said...

With these guys there is always a camera. I suspect a video will tell people what happened.

Owen Finley said...

Camus and Sartre would approve.

sinz52 said...

A wingsuit is like an airplane without a rudder: Susceptible to flat spins.

If the wingsuit flier goes into a spin, it's extremely difficult or impossible to get out of it.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u2e58U1m3Po&hd=1

Reminds you of when Chuck Yeager was nearly killed, doesn't it?

rehajm said...

Not afraid of dying, but afraid of not living.*

*If the definition of not living includes not jumping off tall objects.

SJ said...

@traditionalguy,

for some reason, I'm reminded of Otto Lilienthal.

He and his brother lived in Europe during the lifetime of the Wright brothers. The Lilienthal brothers were glider enthusiasts.

Otto logged thousands of successful flights.

However, in 1896, Otto died after a stall-and-crash of a glider.

The Lilienthal-designed gliders required the pilot to shift his weight to control flight.

The Wright-designed gliders, and later airplanes, altered the geometry of the wings to control flight.

Capt. Schmoe said...

If you look at video from many of the more extreme wing suit flyers, you will notice that part of the experience is to fly very close to objects on the side of the mountain. Rocks, trees or any other fixed object. Very little room is left for error and energy must be managed very carefully to ensure a safe conclusion of the flight.

Sooner or later, an error or misjudgement occurs or an unexpected change in conditions happens, causing a catastrophic event.

It seems as these people either realize the inevitability of their demise and find something else to do or they fly into something and die. It seems like a rather selfish endeavor really.

AllenS said...

It isn't the fall that kills you, but the sudden stop.

Tank said...

That looks like fun to me. Too scary and I'm too old now, but, thinking back, I did a lot of things that could have gone terribly wrong: ski jumps into unknown areas, motorcycle stunts where I was not really in control, flying in gliders and hot air balloons, etc.

Nothing as extreme as this, but, it does look like FUN. With all caps.

Some people like to get that thrill. I'm a little like that, others are more so.

Michael McClain said...

Darwin Award candidate.

David Hampton said...

They were "flying" real good until they hit the ground. That's when they made the change from flying to stuff on a rock. Two sports with different terminal endings. Gives new meaning to "Pay It Forward."

The Drill SGT said...

LOL, Illegal Night Free fall Base Jumping next to irregular shear rock walls. What could go wrong?

was it chicken?

Or were they using chute timers and didn't set the up correctly?

if the AAD is not calibrated to the correct ground level, either due to turning the AAD on at a location with a different elevation than the airport, or entering an incorrect altitude offset (a feature that is normally used to compensate for a landing zone that is at a different elevation than the airport).

William said...

There's still quite a few bugs to be worked out in the sports of wingsuit flying and base jumpng. Ditto with football. However, they've got all the technical details of watching such activities on television under control, so that's the ideal way to participate.

barry's blog said...

BASE jumping sounds like the old saying about pilots: “There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots, but there are no old, bold pilots.

Sebastian said...

"A lot of my creativity comes from this nearly insane obsession. Something sparkles in my mind, and then nothing else in life matters.”

"nearly"?

Splat on a rock, and "nothing else in life matters": some contribution to humanity.

Curious George said...

From the NYT:

"Potter, 43, and the other man, Graham Hunt, 29, leapt near dusk off Taft Point, a promontory about 3,000 feet above the floor of Yosemite Valley, not far from the iconic granite masses of El Capitan and Half Dome. Flying in wingsuits, they tried to clear a notch in the granite cliffs but instead smashed into the rocks in quick succession."

Should have learned from Icarus.

Gahrie said...

Adrenaline junky. they have been around for a long time.

Usually they only kill themselves and don't take anyone with them.

John Scott said...

Maybe they should have just taken up hang gliding. If you click my name you can see the possibilities. I have two blogs; one where I keep a data base of all the site distance records throughout the United States; the other a personal diary.

Gahrie said...

@John:

I live in San Bernardino Calif. we have a hang gliding and parasailing site where people take off from Lake arrowhead and land behind CSUSB. I'm told it is one of the few places in the world where you can take off, parasail, and land higher up then where you took off due to summer thermals.

mccullough said...

If you want the ultimate, you have to be willing to pay the ultimate price.

Original Mike said...

"It was the guiding principle of Potter’s climbing career: Pursue the impossible, regardless of what the law, fellow climbers and the rules of physics had to say about it."

Yeah, I don't think he was violating any "rules" of physics.

etbass said...

"I suspect a video will tell people what happened."

I think we know what happened; gravity won.

John Scott said...

Gahrie,

I actually have the out and return record from the site you are talking about. I flew to Mt. Wilson and back. The two main launches are Crestline and Marshall Peak. It doesn't have to be summertime for thermals to form. I had a 73 miler from Santa Barbara in March. But, we do get much higher during that time of the year. I've been up to 18,000 ft. a few times.

Btw, the state record for Wisconsin is 126 miles.

CStanley said...

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy states: "There is an art to flying, or rather a knack. Its knack lies in learning to throw yourself at the ground and miss. ... Clearly, it is this second part, the missing, that presents the difficulties."

Coupe said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
mikee said...

My brother, a base jumper, a former Army Ranger, a lifelong pot smoker, a semi-employed house painter all his adult life, expects to die jumping one day.

I wish him all the joy in the world in his sky diving endeavors.

Birches said...

Laslo wins the thread.

Anthony said...

Only two things fall out of the sky, bird sh*t and fools.

traditionalguy said...

HALO trained men also fall out of the air. Rangers and Delta Force practice at Ft Bragg until they become masters at dropping from 30,000 feet and opening at 500 feet, at night.

I advise against telling them to their face that they are fools.

Rusty said...

Gravity always works.

Unknown said...

Tradguy please learn to STFU. Please. You are becoming the Cliff Clavin of this board, often wrong, never in doubt, NEVER silent.

FYI because what you know is usually wrong: it is a commonplace among many military members, that you have to be a fool, or crazy, "to jump out of a perfectly good airplane." I doubt these mature, sensible men would hit you for being in on the joke.

Except for Marines. Forget what I said about mature and sensible.

You're a redheaded southern lawyer. Be glad we let you exist.

Joe said...

Like many daredevils, the guy seemed rather narcissistic and a bit of a tool. His desire for a rush trumped everything, including common sense.