Skydiving is turning into skygliding—who wants to fall like a stone when you can fly like a bird? Or, we should say, a bat...well, most accurately, a flying squirrel.
In recent years, with the help of special suits that incorporate webbing from the wrists to the ankles and between the legs, skydivers have been traveling forward the way the space shuttle comes back to Earth—a steep glide, but a glide nonetheless.
Earlier this spring, U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Ben Borger of the Army's Golden Knights parachute team traveled 11.5 miles forward during a single fall, 1.5 miles farther than the old record. To achieve this, he jumped from a C-17 Globemaster III cargo jet at 32,000 feet and opened his chute at 3,500 feet. Borger carried oxygen equipment to breathe at high altitude, and wore an advanced suit that insulated him against the minus-50-degrees Fahrenheit air in the stratosphere and upper troposphere. A cool series of video segments starts at the 2:20 mark that show him jumping out the back of the airplane.
We wonder if airlines may take notice, as a means to connect passengers through airports without the expense of landing.