Advice for Starting Wingsuit BASE Jumping

Advice for Starting Wingsuit BASE Jumping (2007)

By James Boole and others. 2007-05-23.

1. Introduction:

We have all seen the amazing videos of people like Robert, Yuri and Loic flying their wingsuits. It is natural to want to follow in their slipstreams but let us make sure we do so safely and with adequate preparation.

This document is intended as an initial information source for BASE jumpers interested in starting wingsuit BASE.

This document is not an instruction manual. It does not contain rules, only advice.

Wingsuit BASE is more dangerous than normal BASE jumping if the jumper does not conduct adequate preparation.

If you choose to pursue wingsuit BASE you are strongly recommended to seek instruction from an experienced wingsuit BASE jumper. There is no substitute for one to one coaching.

A wingsuit allows for incredible freefall delays and horizontal distances to be achieved, almost eliminating the chance of striking the object you jumped off, the number one cause of BASE jumping fatalities.

But jumping a wingsuit also has some serious drawbacks:

  • The wingsuit restricts your physical movement making exits harder to perform i.e. difficult to climb down to the exit point, easier to go unstable and then harder to recover.
  • The wingsuit complicates deployment and prevents you from controlling your canopy immediately after opening.
  • The wingsuit jumper must carefully assess the terrain he intends to fly over as the eventual opening point and landing area will be different than for a normal BASE jump and will also depend on flight performance.
  • Experienced BASE jumpers who use ground rush as an altitude indicator must exercise caution during their initial jumps. The low fall rate and high horizontal speeds can fool the jumper that they are higher than they actually are. The wingsuit ground rush for a minimal canopy ride is a lot less intense than for normal freefall.
  • The wingsuit jumper must also pay attention to his altitude when flying down a talus or over sloping terrain. The jumper often focuses on the airspace they are flying towards, giving the illusion they have lots of altitude available (e.g. looking at the valley floor in front of them).

In this situation the jumper must remember that the critical altitude is the immediate vertical elevation they have over the talus or slope. The wingsuit jumper must always ensure sufficient altitude for a safe deployment - bear in mind that as soon as the PC is released the wingsuit jumper will stop flying and drop vertically approx. 200'+ as the canopy deploys.

  • Experienced wingsuit BASE jumpers may attempt to make jumps that would be otherwise impossible without a wingsuit. The jumper must be absolutely sure of his own capabilities and those of his equipment when undertaking jumps that allow little margin for error.

2. Before even considering doing a wingsuit BASE jump you should be:

An intermediate BASE jumper:

  • With minimum 50 BASE jumps (but more jumps are strongly recommended!)
  • Cool under pressure, very comfortable in the BASE environment
  • Always performing solid exits, also when exiting with arms by your side
  • Have good sub & terminal tracking skills
  • Have excellent canopy flying skills and landing accuracy
  • Have consistent record of stable deployments and on-heading openings

An intermediate wingsuit skydiver:

  • With minimum 50 wingsuit skydives (but more jumps are strongly recommended!)
  • Who wears a wingsuit as if it were pyjamas, not feeling physically restricted by the fabric
  • Always able to find the PC quickly and cleanly, with good on heading openings
  • Well practiced at recovering from instability
  • Able to unzip arm wings instantly after deployment - like 2nd nature
  • Familiar using arm and leg cutaways in freefall and under canopy immediately after opening
  • Able to fly the suit comfortably without "potato chipping" achieving reasonable fall rate and forward speed
  • Ideally have performed some wingsuit balloon jumps to simulate the exit & sub terminal flight
  • See Appendix B for specific flight drills to practice whilst jumping the wingsuit from the plane.
  • A person who has read all the incident reports, analysed the contributing factors and accepted that wingsuit / BASE jumping is worth the risk of serious injury & death.

3. So you still want to wingsuit BASE? Let's talk about specific preparation:

First thing, it is strongly recommended to start wingsuit BASE using a low performance wingsuit i.e. Birdman Classic, GTi or similar. Once you have 10+ good wingsuit BASE jumps you could consider jumping with a higher performance suit.

The following items are strongly recommended:

  • A 1 or 2 pin BASE container for wingsuit BASE. The high speed airflow over the container and high deployment angle excludes the use of a Velcro rig.
  • A normal terminal pack job i.e. symmetrical, mesh slider packed "up" (large or fine mesh depending on personal preference).
  • ZP pilot chutes, the size depends on your canopy, between 34" – 38". The PC should NOT have a hackey handle (or heavy handle). With a hackey PC handle there is the possibility of the bridle wrapping around the base of the handle. A heavy PC handle could contribute to PC hesitation.

The following items are recommended:

  • A container with "dynamic corners" or open corners.
  • A suitable helmet, goggles and low profile protective pads.

Back to the dropzone:

  • Perform 20 hop-n-pops using your low performance wingsuit and a sensibly sized 7 cell main, or even better your BASE canopy in a skydiving rig. (The 20 jumps can count towards the 50)
  • Work your deployment altitude gradually down to USPA minimum of 2200', open by 2000' (Discuss this with your CCI / DZO first, some dropzones may enforce a higher pull altitude)
  • If you have any instability, deployment or opening problems go back to full altitude jumps until they are rectified, use a BMI if necessary.

During these 20 hop-n-pops think about your emergency drills for the following situations, bearing in mind the reduced altitude and time under canopy:

  • Unstable exit
  • Handle inside of pouch /BOC
  • Hard pull
  • Floating handle
  • PC in tow
  • Premature deployment
  • Horseshoe malfunction
  • Line twists
  • Line over
  • Water landing
  • Jammed zip

Now to a far away land:

It is strongly recommended to go to one of the following well known "high" locations for your first wingsuit BASE jumps. Become familiar with the object performing normal BASE jumps, getting to know landing areas and outs, obstacles, rock drop, winds, talus / ledges etc.

Site Pro Con
Carl's Huge wall in Northern Norway Good vertical rock drop, Huge LZ, Good access Not many sheep and it rains a lot
Norwegian Fjord in Southern Norway Good vertical rock drop, Medium sized LZ, Good access Very expensive beer
Italian Terminal wall OK vertical rock drop, Small LZ (assume Heli LZ), Good access Wind / turbulence can be a problem
Swiss Fungus Good vertical rock drop, Large landing area Access is difficult, requiring high fitness level and basic climbing skills

Once you are comfortable with the site, pick a day when you are feeling 100% and the weather conditions are perfect to make your first wingsuit BASE jump.

Advice for your first wingsuit BASE jump. What to focus on?

  • Being current! Make sure you get current at wingsuit skydiving and BASE jumping in the weeks running up to your first jump.
  • Pack yourself a nice terminal opening, attach the wingsuit correctly with the PC packed in the BOC with the correct tension (not too loose or too tight). Perform a full gear check before the hike, avoid "exit gear fear" syndrome, as you will already be under pressure.
  • Exit in a nice head high position, student style, with you arm wings open and your leg wing closed, your arm wings will help you balance and remain head high. 1-2 sec after exit slowly extend your leg wing and start to trim the suit as you feel the air speed picking up. Premature exposure of the leg wing can cause you to go head low – be warned! Better to be head high.
  • If you should go head low, stay calm! Bring your head up and if the object allows it, try to stay parallel with the surface and build up some speed to allow you to pull up out of the dive more easily. You may wish to consider this possibility when selecting the site of your first few wingsuit jumps.
  • After you have extended the leg wing focus on flying the suit efficiently away from the object pulling nice and high – don't rush, take time to reach, grip and throw the PC. The PC throw should be vigorous to clear the burble the suit makes behind you. Remember to keep your body symmetrical at all times during deployment to help maintain on heading performance.
  • It is recommended to learn to deploy from full flight as the BASE environment rarely allows enough altitude to collapse your wings and fall vertically prior to deploying. This also has the advantage of keeping the airflow over your body fast & clean reducing the chance of pilot chute hesitation. Deploying from full flight implies keeping your leg wing inflated and only collapsing your arm wings for the moment required to locate the PC. As your canopy reaches line stretch it is better to close your leg wing as it can catch air causing your body to twist.

Your first 5 - 10 jumps should focus on a stable exit, flight and deployment, once you have these survival skills you can start to think about flight time and distance.

4. You now have some wingsuit BASE experience, what's next?

Once you have become a competent wingsuit BASE jumper you could consider:

  • Jumping a higher performance suit
  • Jumping from lower objects, for example the higher exit points in the legal Swiss valley.
  • Jumping camera
  • Performing 2 ways +
  • Opening up new objects
  • Aerials
  • Your imagination is the limit! Make sure there is video!

Note: Trying to land any of the current wingsuit designs is only recommended for the terminally ill.

You want to jump a higher performance wingsuit:
So you have done approx. 10+ good wingsuit BASE jumps with a low performance suit and you now intend to jump a higher performance suit.

Assuming you have trouble free experience flying the higher performance suit from the plane you can go ahead and use it for BASE.

Treat your first wingsuit BASE jump using the higher performance wingsuit the same as your first wingsuit BASE jump.

You want to jump a wingsuit that has a leg pouch PC:
If you intend to use the leg pouch PC (e.g. S3 or Phoenix Fly wingsuit) - it is strongly recommended to perform the following ground and skydiving preparation.

Prior to jumping the leg pouch PC perform a couple of thousand practice pulls on the ground. Be able to find the handle, regardless of body position with your eyes closed. Do 300 practice pulls a night for a week or so, simulating full flight then deployment.

When packing the PC into the leg pouch assure that the Birdman or Phoenix Fly guide lines are followed. The PC should not be too loose or too tight. It is strongly recommended to bar tack the Velcro sleeve to the bridle - check that you leave enough free bridle between the bar tack and pin to ensure the Velcro is completely peeled before any tension is applied to the pin. Failure to do so can cause PC hesitation.

Don't mate the male-female Velcro over each other 100% when the suit is brand new, let the them overlap 50% to the side for the first few dozen jumps until the Velcro is slightly worn. For more details on assembling and packing the leg pouch PC system please refer to

Perform at least 10 skydives with the system, using a wingsuit or BASE bridle, start with normal altitude jumps, performing dummy pulls in flight and then pulling high to give yourself extra time. Assuming you have no opening problems or issues finding the PC handle quickly & easily you can work down to lower altitude deployments.

Treat your first wingsuit BASE jump using the leg pouch the same as your first wingsuit BASE jump.

5. Conclusion

Following these guidelines does not make wingsuit BASE jumping a safe activity.

Wingsuit BASE is still a relatively new discipline. It requires jumpers to develop new skills, new muscle memory, new judgement and new understanding. Respect it.

This document is by no means the final word on wingsuit BASE jumping, always seek advice and guidance from other experienced wingsuit jumpers and share what you discover.

By taking part in this activity you are in effect a "test jumper", we all still have a lot to learn…

Let's be careful out there.

Long Flights


James Boole
Craig Poxon
Robert Pecnik
Simon Brentford
Gray Fowler
Yuri Kuznetsov
Steve Schieberl
Per Eriksson


The authors of this document accept no responsibility, financially or otherwise for any loss, serious injury or death that occurs as a result of any persons following the advice contained within this document.

BASE jumping and wingsuit BASE jumping are extremely dangerous activities carrying risk of serious injury or death. Performing the activities described in this document with out becoming an expert skydiver and completing dedicated BASE / wingsuit training will likely result in a demonstration of natural selection.

Appendix A

Specific wingsuit drills to perform whilst jumping from the plane:

  • Barrel rolls
  • Front flips
  • Back flying
  • Flying and pulling with left arm wing closed (i.e. to simulate blown wing)
  • Pulling out of steep dives quickly (i.e. bad exit)
  • Dropping knees
  • Turning with minimal altitude loss
  • Carving turns
  • Arching, de-arching
  • Deploying from full flight
  • Flying with one bootie off
  • Turning only with legs
  • Turning only with arms
Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License