The summer of 2012 was marked by any number of hang gliding, paragliding and skydiving world record records; in fact, some records that have held their ground for decades were shattered. Let’s take a moment to reflect back on these awe-inspiring feats. These are our choices for the top 6 record breaking feats of 2012:
Nate and Matt set Paragliding Distance Records
The summer started off on a strong note with the new USA paragliding record that was set on June 30th when Matt Beechinor sailed 301km in Sun Valley, Idaho. Little did Beechinor know that Nate Scales was headed to the same region a few weeks later, upsetting Beechinor’s days-old record when he touched down at 319km. Now Nate has turned his sites to a 200 mile record that many may question, but that all will watch with eager attention.
Vertical Skydivers Set Record
Beechinor and Scales’ quests were solo, but the record that was made on August 17th included no less than 138 vertical skydivers who jumped over Ottawa, Illinois. In order to break the previous 2009 record of 108 skydivers, the team had to participate in trainings and camps before being selected to be one crystal of the 150-foot wide snowflake configuration. Using six aircraft to complete the jump and falling at speeds of up to 220 miles per hour, all skydivers were able to land safely to celebrate their hard-earned record.
Wingsuit Divers Set Record
Never allowing their sport to be eclipsed, 100 skydivers participated in a world record formation during their 13,000-foot wingsuit dive. September 22nd witnessed an inspiring diamond formation created by air athletes from no less than 21 different nations. The wingsuits, designed to increase the body surface of the divers, gives considerable lift, allowing the divers to cruise for two miles horizontally. This was the first jump that was so elaborate in design, and it is sure to inspire future wingsuiters to greatness.
Nick Greece Goes the Long Haul
Then three short days after the snowflake jump, Nick Greece–also an editor for Hang Gliding and Paragliding Magazine–soared 10km past Scales’ newly acquired paragliding record of 319km. Flying his EnZo through some hostile, uninhabited territory didn’t afford Greece an earlier landing, but he was happy to oblige a new record anyway of 329km or 204.6 miles. Considering the constant one-up-manship of these athletes, it will be interesting to see when the next record will be realized.
Dustin and Jonny Land Long
The World Record Encampment, an event specifically set up to break records, resulted in several world records this years. The most notable record was Dustin Martin’s hang gliding flight of 475 miles from Zapata, Texas to Lubbock, Texas. Dustin buddied up with his old friend Jonny Durand and they both flew within sight of each other for most of the eleven hour trip. Jonny landed just three miles behind Dustin. The previous record for flying a hang glider was set by Manfred Ruhmer at 435 miles at the World Record Encampment in 2001. Mike Barber set an unofficial record of 438 miles. Other notable records claimed at this event include Mike Barber’s distance to goal, and several triangle records including Dustin Martin’s 100km speed triangle.
With all of these magnificent feats, it was only fitting that Felix Baumgartner top such a summer with the most memorable jump of all time because it was from the edge of space. Baumgartner’s approximately two-and-a-half hour ascension to the edge of the stratosphere was exciting enough on its own. His 24.26 mile jump, however, will be something that generations talk about for a long time. So much work, planning, and adventure went into a free-fall that took less than 5 minutes, but his endeavor has turned the world’s eye to the ingenuity and adventure inherent in air sports.
The summer was a busy time for airsports in the U.S., but that next incredible feat is just around the corner.