The man who thinks he's a bird

Updated: 2011-08-08 08:03

By Liu Wei (China Daily)

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 The man who thinks he's a bird

An artist's impression of Jeb Corliss' proposed wingsuit jump, when he will attempt to fly through a hole on Tianmen Mountain in Zhangjiajie. Provided to China Daily

Jeb Corliss believes humans can fly like birds and has proven it by jumping from Paris' Eiffel Tower, Seattle's Space Needle and the Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia.

The latest challenge for the 35-year-old BASE jumper, skydiver and wingsuit flier is to rocket through a hole in a 1,300-meter-high cliff on Tianmen Mountain, in the city of Zhangjiajie, Hunan province.

On Sept 24, Corliss will jump from a helicopter 600 meters above the hole and fly toward it. The opening is 131 meters high, 57 meters wide and 60 meters deep.

He will attempt to glide through it at a speed of more than 120 km/h, while fighting turbulence and probably heavy fog, before coming out the other side of the mountain.

ABC News describes the flight as "threading the needle or dying".

"This is the single most difficult thing I've tried to do, ever," says the Californian, who started training at 16 to realize his childhood dream of flying.

Corliss aims to be the first wingsuit stuntman to fly in China. The sport enables a person to fly with the aid of a jumpsuit that adds surface area to the human body and increases lift. Most wingsuit designs create a surface area between the legs and under the arms.

Wingsuits feature in the latest Transformers movie, in which the United States Air Force's wingsuit fliers glide among Chicago's skyscrapers. One of the fliers is an old friend of Corliss.

Corliss' team has been setting up the flying route and the timing to open the parachute.

He has been practicing in Europe over the past three months, and will soon spend several days training at the location.

Good weather is critical, he says, and if it is not good enough he has to postpone the flight.

Six other wingsuit fliers will jump off the helicopter with Corliss, but they will not go through the hole.

For decades Tianmen Mountain has been not only a destination for tourists, with its picturesque scenery, but also a wonderland for adventurers.

In 1999, seven pilots flew through the hole Corliss will attempt to go through. Eight years later "French Spiderman" Alain Robert climbed 200 meters up the side of a cliff without mountaineering equipment.

Wang Jianjun, chief of Zhangjiajie's information office, hopes the event will further boost the city's tourism.

"The show combines miracles by both man and nature," he says.

China Daily


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