French Daredevils Leap Off a Perfectly Good Mountain into a Moving Airplane

James Bond once did it without a wingsuit. But these guys did it for real.

A French freeflying champion who is either Frédéric Fugen or Vincent Reffet chases a Pilatus Porter over Switzerland. (Evert Cloetens / Thibault Gachet)
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In the 1995 James Bond movie GoldenEye, 007 (Pierce Brosnan, in his first of four appearances as the famous spy) drives a motorcycle off a cliff in pursuit of a small airplane, then pilots his own body in free fall into the aircraft’s open door to seize the controls. But that fictional Brit was upstaged by two real Frenchmen recently when competitive “freeflyers” Frédéric Fugen and Vincent Reffet took a header off the 4,096-meter-high peak of Switzerland’s Jungfrau mountain and used their wingsuits fly into the cabin of a Pilatus Porter light aircraft (very similar to the Pilatus PC-6/B2-H4 Turbo-Porter seen in GoldenEye) and not its propeller.

The door of the Porter measures a little larger than four feet by five feet.  As the thrilling video documents, the two champions—who compete together as the Soul Flyers—were ecstatic upon the successful completion of the stunt, which they celebrated by cheering and waving their arms, which remained fully intact and operational and attached to their torsos, because they were not shredded by the propeller.

While the Bond franchise has a long history of staging spectacular aerial stunts, the GoldenEye jump into the airplane was an illusion achieved through editing. Chris Corbould, the movie's visual effects supervisor, once lamented to the British film magazine Empire that the shot of Brosnan appearing to fly into the cabin was “probably not our finest moment.” Fugen and Reffet shall have no such regrets. Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité! 

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