We caught up with Fraser Corsan, he’s a very experienced wingsuit flyer – the world’s fastest non motorised sport. Fraser Fraser Corsan holds the world record, which clocks in at 400 kph (249mph)!
How many jumps/flights have you done?
I have just over 2,500 jumps of which 1500 are wingsuit skydives.
Highest jump and are you going to try break your speed record ?
My highest jump to date is 35,527ft, I am planning to go back to 42,000ft as we planned last time but got stopped by extreme weather, I am currently looking for a new sponsor as these projects are not cheap, but do offer the opportunity for a stand out marketing/branding exercise, the last project was the single most successful brand campaign my sponsor had ever had globally with 2.1Billion impressions worldwide.
How much does each flight cost?
A typical skydive once you are qualified is around £20-£25 depending on where you jump, the specialist high altitude jumps are far more and O2 cost support team etc mean its a different ball game.
We can only imagine that any mistakes could be fatal, have you had any near crashes ?
I have had 2 cutaways where I had to use my reserve prachute, however the last was in 2002, If you train hard use good equipment (which it all pretty much is) and don’t do stupid things its actually a very safe sport. I have bene flying wingsuits since 2001 and skydiving since 1996, progressing step by step makes you a better jumper, too many try to rush too fast to be the next big cool thing etc, this approach attracts high risk and frequently results in accidents.
What scares you most about flying?
Other people doing dumb things near me, historically equipment was not good, but these days its superb, its more human error from people trying things they are not ready for or doing things that they simply should not attempt, this is when it gets dangerous. I avoid jumping with anyone with those traits and if I see dumb stuff I have a quiet word. The actual flying is a lot of fun, you just have to approach it professionally and train hard as you progress, getting lots of jumps in on small suits where making a mistake is not so serious is a good way to learn before progressing onto the medium level suits and then the advanced suits, its a journey not a race, cliched but true. As the suits become bigger they become more sensitive to flight input and need to be respected not rushed into.
The dream of being able to fly is one owned by a good percentage of the population globally! Can you explain what it’s like?
Physically its great, our whole lives we have gravity applying pressure to our bodies in freefall and flight, whilst their is air pressure on your body, you actually feel light and incredibly free and powerful as you can fly pretty much where you like, I say fly but in reality we are gliding not climbing generally. A typical jump with my high performance wingsuit from 3 miles high or 15,000ft will give me around a 4 minute flight time before I deploy my wingsuit, during that time I can cover typically 6-8 miles of the area or more depending on the wind direction. Visually I can see everything, when you normally fly on a commercial flight you look out or a tiny window, I get an unrestricted view and can go wherever I like for 4 mins under my own direction and with friends in formation. Mentally the day job and any stresses you might have disappear for a short time you get to fly and when you fly like this, nothing else matters but the sheer pure joy of flight.
Have you flown through heavy cloud cover? If so what’s that like?
So this is a fun one, flying in heavy cloud; inside is simply like flying in fog, essentially that is what it is, however flying over or beside big clouds is magical and incredibly beautiful as it provides a relative object to your flight and you can see your speed in relation to the cloud, plus the shapes can be stunning and if near sunset the clouds are pinks, oranges, golds and reds which can make for some stunning scenery.
Have read about the cold so can add bits but anything else you d like to add about temperatures?
Generally equipment these days is excellent at keeping you warm, the wingsuit itself is a good insulator, however the biggest issue is around gloves, frozen fingers lose dexterity which you need to safely deploy your pilot chute, this is the smaller chute we deploy that initiates the sequence to open our main parachute. So good insulated gloves are key. For the high altitude record jump I wore wool gloves with chemical pads and then electrical heated glove also. The other issue is O2 systems freezing for high altitude, insulation was key, we had design modification we made that worked and we had no issues with the cold even at -56C before wind chill to -130C.
Can you feel the air resistance difference at high altitudes?
You feel the air resistance naturally in flight, but not a noticeable difference between 35k and a normal jump, because your flying so fast, whilst the airflow is less dense its compressed with the higher speed you are flying so it compensates any lower pressure you might have found.
Wingsuit flying is often associated with BASE jumping and the associated incredibly high fatality rates, however the reality is BASE wingsuit flights make up about 1% of the flights made in wingsuits, with 99% of all wingsuit flights being in the skydive environment. This has veered public perception that wingsuits are incredibly dangerous, they are not, people flying 2ft of the ground close to cliffs at 140mph with no margin is where people are getting killed not on skydives. I don’t BASE jump and respect everyone’s choice to BASE or skydive, but there is a big difference in where the fatals are coming from and understanding its not from wingsuits its from human error and the choice to fly in the BASE environment.
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