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Skydive across the channel
July 31, 2003 7:48 AM   Subscribe

"Skydiver in record Channel flight" is the claim made by an Austrian skydiving across the channel aided by small strap-on wings. Evidently he needed a 1 in 4 glide angle to make it, but a simple understanding of flight mechanics would suggest that the distance he could fly is proportional to the amount of strap-on wing area. At what point does skydiving become gliding?
posted by marvin (12 comments total)

 
Given the number of mishaps it's amazing he made it alive much less on target. Very cool idea though hope to see more of this in the future. Superman.
posted by stbalbach at 7:58 AM on July 31, 2003


"At what point does skydiving become gliding?"

Uhh... at this point, I guess.
posted by Newbornstranger at 8:00 AM on July 31, 2003


At what point does skydiving become gliding?
When air currents and thermals no longer play any part of keeping you airborne, you're pretty much skydiving.
posted by PenDevil at 8:07 AM on July 31, 2003


Fin de Cross-Channel jump
posted by cip at 8:12 AM on July 31, 2003


"Mr Baumgartner had prepared for three years for this flight, with rigorous training including strapping himself on to the top of a speeding Porsche."
posted by trbrts at 8:24 AM on July 31, 2003


I saw this picture and had a momentary JET PACKS ARE FINALLY HERE moment. Darnit, dreams dashed again.
posted by CunningLinguist at 8:44 AM on July 31, 2003


"That's not flying... that's falling with style!" -Woody

Interesting! This is clearly skydiving, not gliding, but apparently he's achieved more horizontal distance than anyone before. Skydivers have been using winged suits for several years; rigid wing experiments would naturally follow, though I don't imagine the clumsy bulk becoming popular with sport jumpers.

The article is a bit breathless, though, with some confusing bits and likely inaccuracies:

"And when he jumped his legs and glider got entangled and he had to cut his glider into pieces, he said." Obviously on a previous attempt.

From the graphic: "Parachute opened at 1000 feet." Doubtful. Intentionally opening that low is foolhardy, leaving no time for emergency procedures or use of the reserve canopy. Some main canopies take almost 1000 feet to fully inflate. (Typical opening altitude is 2,500.)
posted by Tubes at 8:46 AM on July 31, 2003


PenDevil is right about this one. Since Baumgartner couldn't rise on thermals, only fall in a more controlled arc of descent, then he wasn't really gliding as we think of gliding.

On the other hand, an aircraft that loses engine power might be able to stay in a controlled descent, or a glide, provided it has enough airspeed and isn't too heavy, to give the wings enough lift to bring it down safely. At least that's as far as I understand aerodynamics.

Regardless, flying across the English channel the way it was done was still pretty damned cool.
posted by bwg at 8:51 AM on July 31, 2003


At what point does skydiving become gliding?
When air currents and thermals no longer play any part of keeping you airborne, you're pretty much skydiving.


Great moments in hair splitting, if I may:

Um, actually sailplane pilots differentiate between what they do and what glider pilots do, in that sailplanes ride the thermals, etc. while gliders, um, glide. That is a glider is in a steady rate of descent, which is slowed by the use of its lifting devices.

A sailplane is, granted, also in a rate of descent, but is able to use thermals and the like to actually climb.

That's the crux: Ability to climb versus abilty to "just" glide.

So I'm saying what we've got here is something pretty darn close to skygliding.

/ hair split
posted by Elvis at 10:47 AM on July 31, 2003


Composite wing, bah! Here's how real men skydive! (NSFW.)
posted by homunculus at 10:48 AM on July 31, 2003


Here's how real men skydive!

Appears to involve a strap-on ... but not wings
posted by ElvisJesus at 11:05 AM on July 31, 2003


On the BBC Breakfast show this morning one of the presenters said that he looks just like Buzz Lightyear. I couldn't agree more.
posted by Nick Jordan at 12:44 AM on August 1, 2003


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