Join 3,497 readers in helping fund MetaFilter (Hide)


Blame it on the ADD
February 23, 2012 12:45 AM   Subscribe

Grounded. Jeb Corliss pays the price.

The tally is two broken legs, including a compound tib-fib and an injured neck. From Jeb's facebook: what happened and his current status.

Previous Jeb Corliss posts.
posted by Manjusri (38 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite

 
Some cuteness for fans and insight into the sport by a former jumper.
posted by Manjusri at 12:48 AM on February 23, 2012


Squirrel-suiting is one of those things that looks really cool but the consequences of anything going wrong are just too damn high for it to be worth it, probably higher than spaceflight. I think I'll get my kicks on a skateboard.
posted by dunkadunc at 1:06 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love Jebs' mindset, it's what advances us into the unknown, like spaceflight^.
posted by Mblue at 1:10 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I love Jebs' mindset, it's what advances us into the unknown, like spaceflight^.

Somehow, physicists have been advancing us into the unknown for over a century, without such danger to life and limb. I don't recall Einstein or Dirac doing anything that might be considered for a Mountain Dew commercial. You can rationalize a craving for danger all you like, but in the end it's just dangerous fun and doesn't need an independent justification.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 1:20 AM on February 23, 2012 [10 favorites]


The Mercury Astronauts disagree Philosopher Dirtbike.
posted by Mblue at 1:27 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I like his attitude and as long as you're willing to pay the price of admission, go for it. I never did anything like that when I was young enough to do so and wish I had.
posted by maxwelton at 1:31 AM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


The thought occurs, maxwelton, that with activities of that kind of danger level, maybe it's better to be old and regret not doing it, in exchange for being able to be old, and regret not doing it.
posted by Malor at 1:44 AM on February 23, 2012 [4 favorites]


Woah. Dude just went splat at 140 mph into a cliff, recovered his glide attitude and slope and then managed to mostly deploy his parachute before crashing into the side of a cliff at what was probably still 80-100 mph? And he manages to survive with just broken legs and an "injured neck"?

Wily E. Coyote is jealous. That's some kind of wacky cartoon physics. He should be dead.

It kind of looks like he did the actual leg-breaking part after the chute half-deployed. I have no idea how he'd extend his legs and regain glide attitude and control with a compound tib-fib fracture.

People have been doing dumb, risky stuff for entertainment since before people existed. Watch any tribe of monkeys swinging around in the trees. Same difference. After a certain amount of altitude and terminal velocity dead by gravity is (usually) dead.

It's arguably riskier for someone untrained and physically out of shape to rent a jet ski, or a bicycle, or take a swing on a rope swing out over a lake or quarry, or going skin-diving, or even simply larding it up at the buffet line on a cruise ship than it is for someone trained and experienced and physically fit.

And people do these kinds of things all the time without raising outrage. But a video of someone falling off a rented scooter and breaking their neck is so much less dramatic and less obviously risky than jumping off a perfectly good cliff.

30,000+ people die a year in the US alone from traffic fatalities. Some of those are probably from people driving simply for fun, or going to or from entertainment as mundane as a dinner and movie.

Basically - there are huge differences in the risk profiles between trained/fit athletes like Jeb Corliss doing this jump and low-fly attempt and, well, the rest of us.

Sure, adrenalin is hell of a drug. So what? What he's doing is probably less risky than a meth, coke, opiate or alcohol addiction. Probably costs him and society less, too.

So I don't see what the outrage is all about. Each of us should be so lucky to die doing something they love. It could be Scrabble for all I care, and for the record if I ever end up dead or a vegetable while riding my bike - at least I was doing something I enjoyed.

A life lived to old age, in misery or filled with regrets isn't actually a life lived. It may be a life that's been protected in a miserly fashion, but it's not a life that's been lived.

That doesn't mean everyone should be BASE jumpers or living in a Mountain Dew commercial - but to each their own limits and abilities, they can fly.
posted by loquacious at 2:04 AM on February 23, 2012 [15 favorites]


Wily E. Coyote is jealous. That's some kind of wacky cartoon physics. He should be dead.

Hardly. Wily E. Coyote would have climbed out of the hole he made with his body, stars swirling around his head, with enough time to open an umbrella before the falling anvil hit him. And then he would have held up a sign saying "Ouch!". I didn't see anything like that in the video. Just some dude wishing he had more control over his flight surfaces.

I mean without a falling anvil, a few sticks of dynamite, and some instant hole, I don't see how anyone can seriously call this a sport.
posted by three blind mice at 2:30 AM on February 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


The Mercury Astronauts disagree Philosopher Dirtbike.

You really think that the Mercury astronauts believe that they did more to "advance us into the unknown" than the developers of modern physics did?
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 2:51 AM on February 23, 2012


> I don't recall Einstein or Dirac doing anything that might be considered for a Mountain Dew
> commercial.

Not quite on the same level of crazy, but Einstein did actually wound his hand in a lab accident.
posted by Coventry at 2:53 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


As a sky lizard once said, there are different sorts of unknowns...
posted by Manjusri at 2:59 AM on February 23, 2012


So I don't see what the outrage is all about.

Where? Must be somewhere in the linked articles.

[Dear Internet, Not every "I disagree" or "that's not my cup of tea" or "that doesn't look like a good thing to do if you like living" should be construed as outrage or hate or a "slam". Sometimes people just disagree. Thanks.]
posted by pracowity at 3:12 AM on February 23, 2012 [6 favorites]


I don't recall Einstein or Dirac doing anything that might be considered for a Mountain Dew commercial.

Oh come on. The first detonation of an atomic bomb at Trinity Site "was done at the risk of conceivably blowing up the state of New Mexico, and possible blowing an irreparable hole in our atmosphere. No one knew beforehand exactly what would result."

IIRC from Richard Rhodes' book about the making of the atomic bomb, at least a few of the physicists present could not be certain that the detonation would not rip the atmosphere from the planet.

But they did it anyway.

More like 7-UP than Mountain Dew but still pretty gnarly wouldn't you say.
posted by three blind mice at 3:18 AM on February 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


It's not like Einstein pressed the red button on the first atomic bomb test.
posted by pracowity at 3:39 AM on February 23, 2012


This kind of flying is one of the very few activities I'm sorry didn't exist as a thing when I was 18 years old and weighed 85 lbs. It just looks like so much (incredibly dangerous) fun.
posted by chavenet at 3:43 AM on February 23, 2012


Anybody know where that jump(?) took place?
posted by hwestiii at 4:01 AM on February 23, 2012


Table Mountain, Cape Town.
posted by psolo at 5:01 AM on February 23, 2012


This kind of flying is one of the very few activities I'm sorry didn't exist as a thing when I was 18 years old and weighed 85 lbs.

Yeah.

But on the other hand, we used to drive like we were competing in demolition derby, climb very high things with one hand because there was a six-pack in the other, etc. If we had also been able to get hold of flying squirrel costumes, half of my childhood friends and I would be dead by now, dead or humming around in mouth-controlled wheelchairs.
posted by pracowity at 5:01 AM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


hwestii: Table Mountain, Cape Town

The banging soundtrack helps cover up the groans of agony I heard in a video.
posted by PenDevil at 5:01 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hardly. Wily E. Coyote would have climbed out of the hole he made with his body, stars swirling around his head, with enough time to open an umbrella before the falling anvil hit him.

Yeah, one badly-burned ear, attached by a thread of flesh, swinging back and forth with a creaking noise, or it didn't happen.
posted by GenjiandProust at 5:19 AM on February 23, 2012


Statistically speaking, you have around a 1 out of 100,000 chance of dying on a skydive. You have around a 1 out of 3,000 chance of dying on a base jump. But you can tweak those odds with risk management, e.g., if you don't do "swoop" landings your skydiving odds go up to something like 1 out of 300,000. If you add proximity wing suit flying to base jumping? Good fricken' luck -- not a question of "if" but rather "when." He's incredibly lucky -- 2 inches lower and this would have had a very different outcome. And, to give credit where credit is due, he kept his wits about him and got fabric over his head almost instantly. Way to go Mr. Corliss.
posted by Dean358 at 5:34 AM on February 23, 2012


My father, a scientist from a generation later than Einstein's, always held that they also didn't know whether the Trinity detonation might not also just "ignite our atmosphere".
posted by kalessin at 5:43 AM on February 23, 2012


My father, a scientist from a generation later than Einstein's, always held that they also didn't know whether the Trinity detonation might not also just "ignite our atmosphere".

Well that would have definitely ended the war, so mission accomplished.
posted by PenDevil at 5:45 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


So I don't see what the outrage is all about.

I assume you're responding to me, but I'm not outraged. That's why I said that doing stuff like requires no justification. Danger can be it's own reward. Just don't try to justify getting your kicks by saying that you're doing something important, that you have lofty goals, or that you're somehow improving human knowledge.

Just, as they say, do it.

As a slight aside, I have always advocated that individuals' insurance rates should not be based on the risks people take in life (also: not for profit). Freedom is about being able to choose to take risks, and it seems to me that those of us who choose not to live dangerously should subsidize those who do, not because there's (necessarily) any benefit to taking risks, but rather that it makes us all more free to live life the way we want to live it.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 5:48 AM on February 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


I saw an excellent film at a Banff Mountain Film Festival screening a number of years ago called 20 Seconds of Joy about a Norwegian BASE jumper, Karina Hollekim. The film frequently focused on the tension between Karina and her friends and family who didn't really understand her dedication to the sport and what she got out of it. She eventually had an accident, incidentally during a regular sky diving demonstration, and was severely injured. In the hospital and while recovering she struggled to come to terms with the realization that her actions didn't just affect her, but also her friends and family.

I bring this up because while I am generally sympathetic to living life to the fullest, I think that when we take risks, we should also be aware that we are affecting those close to us as well. I suspect that people like Jeb Corliss or Alex Honnold are so caught up and absorbed in what they are doing that they aren't necessarily fully aware of that. Or maybe they are and they have come to terms with that. I certainly admire and respect their achievements and derive my own vicarious joy out of seeing them push new boundaries.
posted by jamincan at 6:15 AM on February 23, 2012 [1 favorite]


I remember many times standing on a cliff or mountain top and looking down at the valley below and wishing, earnestly, that I could fly. I think this is awesome and if I had the mindset and body capable of doing this when I was younger I probably would have really loved it.

I have no doubt that in a couple of months even with a broken body he will be out and moving around more than my lazy ass does.
posted by Deathalicious at 6:23 AM on February 23, 2012


Don't blame me. I had nothing to do with this.
posted by grounded at 7:55 AM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


"It's arguably riskier for someone untrained and physically out of shape to rent a jet ski, or a bicycle, or take a swing on a rope swing out over a lake or quarry, or going skin-diving, or even simply larding it up at the buffet line on a cruise ship than it is for someone trained and experienced and physically fit."
Man do I have to take issue with that statement. I helped organize backpacking trips (real calm stuff, nothing technical) for my college expeditionary and I agree the average untrained person is a terrible judge of risk. I'm aware of scientific papers that illustrate that humans are fundamentally flawed in our ability to judge and perceive risk. And I've seen stats that demonstrate the consistent over perception of risk in activities such as climbing, kayaking, sky-diving, etc.

I do not think any of that applies here.

Whenever I think about risk management I think about trying to control the environment, redundancy, leaving safe margins. Mr. Corliss may have a lot of agility and experience, but there's only so much you can control the atmosphere. My very limited experience with flying, and some interaction with hang gliders, I know the air isn't that smooth, winds can buffet your path, and you're moderately at their mercy. So in an environment he can't completely control Mr. Corliss seeks to minimize the safety margins by flying as close as possible to the edges of the cliffs. I'm sure there are a dozen reasons why its actually safer than it looks, but this collision doesn't really surprise me.

You can make the argument that him being thrown off his flightpath is less likely than some neophyte doing something stupid with a jet ski (And my drunk, fat, jet-ski owning hill-billy cousins are proof of that). But the consequences here are contact with earth at 60-90 mph. Mr. Corliss got unlucky in an extremely lucky way.

I think I commented enthusiastically on a previous MeFi Corliss FPP, and I stand by that. I'm not here with "rage" or scorn. Jeb Corliss is an extremely entertaining daredevil. But this is not anything near what I would call reasonable risk management.
posted by midmarch snowman at 8:04 AM on February 23, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yes, the Theory of Relativity and squirrel-suit base jumping are analogues.
posted by KokuRyu at 8:06 AM on February 23, 2012 [3 favorites]


You want to talk high risk? As kid we used to ride in the back of a car with no seat belts, no side air bags, while our mother blew second hand smoke at us. I'm not even going to tell you the amount of trans-fats we used to eat. You pussies couldn't handle it.
posted by benito.strauss at 8:14 AM on February 23, 2012 [7 favorites]


As is said: there are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots.
posted by acheekymonkey at 8:41 AM on February 23, 2012


It's not like Einstein pressed the red button on the first atomic bomb test.

Although you have to admit, pracowity, that would have been awesome.

And un-Einsteinlike.

But awesome.
posted by IAmBroom at 9:22 AM on February 23, 2012


I tried to watch, but my eyes got squintier and squintier until they were fully closed.
posted by Stonestock Relentless at 11:58 AM on February 23, 2012


My father, a scientist from a generation later than Einstein's, always held that they also didn't know whether the Trinity detonation might not also just "ignite our atmosphere".
There was a pool among the scientists as to who could most closely predict the yield. Ramsey bet zero. Fermi took the destroy-New-Mexico and ignite-the-atmosphere positions, which were presumably uncollectible.
posted by fantabulous timewaster at 1:01 PM on February 23, 2012


He was trying to kick the black balloon.

My read is this, Jeb is a daredevil, and no doubt an adrenaline junkie. But at least part of what he is saying, I think is, "Humans can fly, and we can do it in these suits. Within their limitations, they are amazingly capable little beasties. Let me show you."

There are some parallels with astronauts. A few of them pushed envelopes as well.
posted by Cathedral at 10:46 PM on February 23, 2012


There is an art, it says, or rather, a knack to flying. The knack lies in learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss. Pick a nice day, [The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy] suggests, and try it.

The first part is easy. All it requires is simply the ability to throw yourself forward with all your weight, and the willingness not to mind that it's going to hurt.

That is, it's going to hurt if you fail to miss the ground. Most people fail to miss the ground, and if they are really trying properly, the likelihood is that they will fail to miss it fairly hard.

Clearly, it is the second part, the missing, which presents the difficulties.


Douglas Adams
posted by fistynuts at 2:04 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


Like he said, it's not the first time he's gotten hurt, and he'll be back at it in no time. Here's an accident he had a few years back, and here's a time when the man flying right next to him hit a bridge and died (warning: disturbing). Nothing will deter him, and yes, it probably will kill him eventually, but he knows the risks and still pushes the envelope. Seconding the recommendation for 20 Seconds of Joy, great film.
My first thought seeing this post was "well, he did want to try landing without a parachute..."
I'm glad he's okay.
posted by hypersloth at 7:34 AM on February 24, 2012 [1 favorite]


« Older Coffee & The Newspaper...  |  How a swashbuckling breed of m... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments