flying dude
June 10, 2006 4:18 PM   Subscribe

Flying Dude Man uses ground effect to soar down the face of a mountain. Lots of physics geeks on MeFi. Is this even possible? (ytube)
posted by vronsky (43 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Are we sure that's due to the ground effect? He was wearing a glider-suit thingy, after all. Couldn't he just have been ... gliding? (not a physics geek, btw :) )
posted by kaemaril at 4:29 PM on June 10, 2006

I'm not sure it's the wing in ground effect. He looks rather high up for that, and goes off the edge of ridges without too much of a problem. I'd guess that the height it comes into play at scales with wingspan, so with just the spread he has he'd probably have to be wiping his nose on the snow (despite being a physicist I have not checked this and could be totally wrong).

That's not to say he couldn't do it gliding normally.
posted by edd at 4:32 PM on June 10, 2006

FWIW, the video says he's gliding 15 feet above the mountain face.
posted by pruner at 4:45 PM on June 10, 2006

This looks like normal gliding to me. He can get so close to the slope because it is fairly consistent and very steep, allowing him to pull up and glide more horizontal, giving him a margin of safety.

That said, this is still very impressive.

Can we have a youtubefilter tag already?
posted by [expletive deleted] at 4:47 PM on June 10, 2006

I'm not a physics person either, but I hear that the knack to flying is to throw yourself at the ground and miss.
posted by Staggering Jack at 4:49 PM on June 10, 2006

More pics of his flying squirrel outfit.

Another flying guy vid.

The bird-man site with equipment to buy, including the wingsuits.
posted by nickyskye at 4:55 PM on June 10, 2006

I've seen an edited version of this video with a sound track that seemed even crazier.

For some reason in this one the narrator and a few camera angles that make him look pretty high above the ground really take away from the holy crap, that guy's insane feeling I got from the first one.
posted by willnot at 5:07 PM on June 10, 2006

Jumping out of a helicopter != BASE jumping.
posted by mr_crash_davis at 5:07 PM on June 10, 2006

Has anyone tried this wearing skis, so when they hit the ground they start skiing?

Because that would be bad ass.
posted by delmoi at 5:13 PM on June 10, 2006

Better quality video than the YouTube one. More pics of this amazing flying dude.
posted by nickyskye at 5:20 PM on June 10, 2006

While watching this, my was playing "And She Was..."

Has anyone tried this wearing skis, so when they hit the ground they start skiing?

Been done in a couple of James Bond movies.

Anyway, here's a classic BASE jump movie from Norway -- many fjord jumps such as Trollveggen, where an Australian jumper recently died.
posted by dhartung at 5:24 PM on June 10, 2006

I realize it was probably said regarding the Wright brothers and a collossal number of other innovators, but...

Even if you were pretty sure of the physics... You'd have to be some kind of idiot to actually try this the first time.
posted by pokermonk at 5:24 PM on June 10, 2006

Here's your physics geek input: Pretty much self expanatory. He has big wings and glides like a sugar glider. Of particular note is that this kind of stunt is only really feasible up in the mountains where the air is cool and mostly still. Try this out in the desert and you could glide along a hot spot and hit a cold spot and dip more than 15 feet crashing into the rocks. But in those conditions in the movie, the air is very still, very little turbulence, very high temperature uniformity, so ideal conditions for doing that without getting planted into the mountain side.
posted by Farengast at 5:25 PM on June 10, 2006

Looks like fun! I'd try it..maybe.
posted by Balisong at 5:25 PM on June 10, 2006

Looks like the most fun a human can have by themself, if you ask me.
posted by Heywood Mogroot at 5:51 PM on June 10, 2006

Here in California we say things like, "Dude!" when we see things like the Flying Dude.
posted by BillyElmore at 5:55 PM on June 10, 2006

i'd love to do that--it's like from a dream or something : >
posted by amberglow at 5:58 PM on June 10, 2006

Farengast: Not ground-effect then?
posted by kaemaril at 6:00 PM on June 10, 2006

Keimaril, I don't think it's the ground effect. Something small like a person would have to be going extremely fast to gain any noticeable ground effect over 15 feet. Also as noted, he does not dip when he glides away from the ground, like over cliff edges etc. What he probably DOES gain which is similar to the ground effect in helping him glide like this, would be that even gentle winds when pushed up by a mountain side, like the one he was gliding down, can create a lot of extra lift for gliding craft and in this case people. This same effect also causes deserts to form with some frequency on the leeward side of mountains while the windward side enjoys substantial precipitation.
posted by Farengast at 6:11 PM on June 10, 2006

I was under the impression that the rule of thumb is that ground effect doesn't come into play until the altitude is half of the wingspan. He just found a slope that approximates his glide angle.
posted by Obvious Fakename at 6:26 PM on June 10, 2006 [1 favorite]

For those as baffled as I, see what Wikipedia has to say about "Ground effect".
posted by waldo at 6:45 PM on June 10, 2006

delmoi said: Has anyone tried this wearing skis, so when they hit the ground they start skiing?

Because that would be bad ass.

Actually, I saw a video of just that a week or 2 ago on Maximum Exposure (TV show).
posted by jahmoon at 6:58 PM on June 10, 2006

In the words of Woody to Buzz Lightyear: "That's not flying, that's falling with style".
posted by Reverend Mykeru at 7:30 PM on June 10, 2006

Beats a rollercoaster.
posted by HTuttle at 8:12 PM on June 10, 2006

It looks like good fun, not that I'd be doing it but yeah, cool.

I remember seeing something on TLC about Ground Effect with some monster Soviet dealie that could haul tanks and such but "flew" fifteen feet or so above the water. And it hauled ass!
posted by fenriq at 8:28 PM on June 10, 2006

Reminds me of the cool way a stingray moves.
posted by nickyskye at 9:03 PM on June 10, 2006

Farengast: speed has nothing to do with it - he could be traveling at the speed of sound there and still not be in ground effect unless his nose was a foot off the snow.
posted by russm at 9:06 PM on June 10, 2006

that looks like so much fun.
posted by PossumCowboy at 9:08 PM on June 10, 2006

How did he figure out he could do it?

He must have balls of diamond
posted by 517 at 9:29 PM on June 10, 2006

That was awe-inspiring. But I wonder if it was real or some type of CGI.

Reminded me of an outfit Burt Lancaster wore as a sky diver in a film called The Gypsy Moths.
posted by Skygazer at 9:33 PM on June 10, 2006

I remember hearing that those suits have a falling speed of 30 mph when they are at their top speed. I don't think it was CGI.
posted by 517 at 9:36 PM on June 10, 2006

More about
"the ground effect", and
other, related
phenomena it gets. via memepool.
posted by cubby at 10:13 PM on June 10, 2006

Has anyone tried this wearing skis, so when they hit the ground they start skiing?

I've seen a helicopter free jump of about 50 ft. of some snowboarder. 50 ft. freefall, right down onto a snow peak, and then down some really scarry chutes, all in one take. Seems fun and expensive.
posted by Balisong at 10:23 PM on June 10, 2006

speed has nothing to do with it - he could be traveling at the speed of sound there and still not be in ground effect unless his nose was a foot off the snow.

Speed has a huge impact. The ground effect is caused by the viscocity of air. The faster you move through air, the larger the distance over which you drag air with you. I agree with you in that it makes little practical difference in this instance. And I haven't done the calculation to see how fast even a large body would have to be moving to drag on air out to 15 feet, though I would guess that it probably isn't possible to actually move through air at those speeds. But to say that speed has nothing to do with it is misleading and false. The ground effect is all about speed, size and viscosity (or Reynolds number if you are familiar with such things), otherwise dust particles would never settle because the ground effect would keep them airborne.
posted by Farengast at 11:03 PM on June 10, 2006


You're describing something called an Orlyonok, I think -- it's a type of aircraft known as an ekranoplan. It's interesting to speculate how the Sovs might've used several dozen of these to put a motor-rifle division or some naval infantry supported by light armor on the beach in Norway in a Red Storm Rising sort of scenario. (I don't think the unrefueled range was anywhere near enough for them to hit Keflavik with these -- and the beach better be pretty poorly defended and relatively shallow and smooth so these puppies can beach -- but it'd be a nasty shock to suddenly have these things arrive from over the horizon and start disgorging troops and AFVs.)

Even more impressive was the "Caspian Sea Monster" (link to teeny little QT footage). Here's a bit more detail about this behemoth -- the video scarcely conveys the scale, which was roughly that of an amphibious 747 with clipped wings and lots and lots of engines. If Soviet aerospace engine technology had been on a par with the west and that sucker had had a more realistic thrust-to-weight ratio, it would've been even more impressive.

Imagine something approaching a WW II LCT in scale but able to move over the water at hundreds of kph. I think an LCAC is pretty impressive too, but LCACs can't match this kind of thing for the speed over (calm) water that the wing-in-ground effect gives you.
posted by pax digita at 11:37 PM on June 10, 2006 [1 favorite]

Sounded like the narrator was Warren Miller (of the numerous ski and other adventure sport movies), and if so it was 100% legit. Still every bit as crazy, but I doubt this was faked.
posted by mosk at 12:18 AM on June 11, 2006

I guess I don't understand why people think this possibly was faked in the first place.

pax digita: Don't be a 2@.
posted by grouse at 12:48 AM on June 11, 2006

The title "Flying Dude" somehow encapsulates everything you need to know about this - absolutely fantastic. Although I did wonder if they added in the "neooow" sound as he whooshed by in the closing frames.

Also - flagged Don't be a 2@ as fantastic.
posted by greycap at 1:33 AM on June 11, 2006

No (or not much) ground effect, just gliding using a wingsuit, first developed by French ├╝ber-dude Patrick de Gayardon, also a pioneer skysurfer...
The thing with wingsuit gliding is that the skydiver does continue to fall at high speed. However, the wingsuit's lift adds some horizontal speed to that vertical speed. Hence, the skydiver's trajectory follows an inclined glideslope. What the dude in the video did was to fall along a slope with nearly the same angle as his glideslope. That doesn't take any ground effect. It does however require notorious HTBs (huge titanium balls).
posted by Skeptic at 5:25 AM on June 11, 2006

I was relieved to see him pull his chute at the one minute mark. I was beginning to wonder how he intended to stop...
posted by five fresh fish at 10:22 AM on June 11, 2006

I did that once, getting out of my car after a drunken night of partying up in Alaska, stepping out the door over a cliff wearing my funky ghost costume from the school play little did I anticipate the adventure that was soon to follow. . . Luckily for me I had ingested many ounces of baked beans and had plenty of afterburner power on hand to make it through the tight turns. . .
posted by mk1gti at 9:05 PM on June 11, 2006

Yeah, that's a Warren Miller Film, called "Journey". It's definitely legit (sound effects are added, of course).
posted by Crash at 7:20 AM on June 12, 2006

And let us not forget the effect the Eiffel Tower flying dude had on the ground in 1912...
posted by cenoxo at 9:10 AM on June 15, 2006

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