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Gary Connery wingsuit landing – I was there (with vid)

I told him he’d nail it, he strolled up the field, donned his wingsuit and did just that.

Gary Connery lands a wingsuit – Here’s the gallery.  I was there on this historic day 23rd May 2012 when Gary Connery, ex british soldier from 3 Para, and hollywood stuntman became the first person to jump from an aircraft (a helicopter at 2400ft no less!) and land safely without using a parachute.

I chatted with Gary minutes before the jump, and we talked about his flysight data from another jump he’d done “sputnik,”  and how he managed to get the perfect glide ratio  he had planned for to hit the boxes.  Weather conditions on the day were not ideal though, it was gusting, there were thermals at the end of the box-rig, he had changed a few things like his exit routine from the chopper, the world’s press (and me and my little camera, my girlfriend Jane and Sassy dog) were waiting, it appeared to me that the wind speed was picking up!

Watching Wingsuit BASE at Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
Watching Wingsuit BASE at Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland

I told him he’d nail it, he strolled up the field, donned his wingsuit and did just that.  There are no words to describe seeing a man fly like a bird with such precision.  If you want to know, go to Lauterbrunnen in Switzerland like I did a few years back, that will give you some idea.  “The valley” is a BASE jumping paradise where if you don’t fancy it yourself, you can get yourself comfortable and watch the wingsuiters jump from the cliffs and fly over your head, all day.

It would probably be correct to say that most people present at Gary’s jump had zero clue about wingsuiting or BASE jumping, but Gary’s confidence and profound self-belief  led everyone to believe that all was in order, nothing could possibly go wrong, lardy dar let’s get this done more tea vicar! and there’s nothing wrong with that.

When the sound of the helicopter rotors changed pitch I knew it was hovering into position, a speck in the sky above. My heart rate probably doubled, then a few seconds later “there he goes”.   Ages seemed to go by, then he exploded into view all of a sudden, no longer a speck, now a man, flying.  Then he went unstable and was rocking from side to side, I was concerned he was close to a stall and I stopped breathing for a while I’m sure;  then when he smashed into the boxes I thought  “perfect landing, he did it”, a thought that lasted about half a second to be replaced by “oh shit, he went in hard and fast.”  My girlfriend was sobbing and I was reassuring her (and myself) that he was ok.  I was nearly in tears and buzzing with adrenaline waiting for him to come out the boxes.  Gary Connery, a true gentleman, and a legend from now on. Something tells me this won’t get copied for a while, it’s just bonkers, I still can’t believe what I saw!

Here’s my video from this incredible day.  For the interview I was between ITN News and the Times, however because this interview was interrupted by the crowd running into the boxes, courtesy of Gary’s wife Vivienne (a fitting end to the proceedings in my opinion) the interview was not shown on TV to the best of my knowledge, so here it is, just as it should be.

 

Far better is it to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even though checked by failure…than to rank with those poor spirits who neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in a gray twilight that knows not victory nor defeat.”    Theodore Roosevelt

Gary Connery what a guy!
Here’s the gallery.