Wingsuit flying – a sport in which people glide through the air while wearing a specialized suit – was first attempted in Switzerland in 2003.
More than 10 years later, the spectacular sport attracts hundreds of aficionados every year: recent estimates put the number of people practicing wingsuiting at about 2,000, AFP reports.
And as the sport becomes more popular, so have the videos shared online featuring daring stunts, turning expert wingsuiters into Internet sensations. Some are seen flying perilously close to mountainsides and approaching the record flying speed of 363 kph.
“Video has a positive side,” Vincent Descols, a wingsuit flier, told AFP. “It allows us to fine-tune the art of flight: the accuracy, the height at which to open the parachute.”
“But other videos are a problem because they give the impression that it’s easy,” Descols added.
Some worry that the online spread of wingsuit videos could be encouraging amateurs to take unprecedented risks. According to the Base Jumping Fatality List, there were 21 wingsuit deaths worldwide in 2013.