One Wingsuiter’s Quest to Glide Faster, Longer, Farther, and Higher Than Anyone Else
Fraser Corsan hopes to glide through the air like never before. Here's how.
Outside's long reads email newsletter features our strongest writing, most ambitious reporting, and award-winning storytelling about the outdoors. Sign up today.
For many wingsuiters, merely flying through the air isn’t enough anymore. Despite the danger—there were at least 35 wingsuit fatalities in 2016—the stunts have gotten increasingly outlandish, from Jamie Flynn veering past the arm of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro to the late Uli Emanuele hurtling through a literal ring of fire. But 42-year-old Fraser Corsan sees little value in manufactured stunts. The Brit simply loves to fly. “You can coast above the clouds, next to them, through the holes in them,” he says. Which is why, over the course of two jumps he’ll perform this spring, he wants to glide faster, longer, farther, and from higher than anyone has before. Here’s how.
What the Jumps Will Look Like
- Corsan wants to set the speed record on a jump over Davis, California. He’ll dive from a converted Cessna Caravan nearly 38,000 feet above sea level and immediately tuck into a nose dive. Then the prevailing jet stream will rocket him to speeds close to 250 miles per hour. (The current record, held by Joe Ridler, is 234 mph.)
- Corsan plans to rise 42,000 feet above Hanover, Ontario, in a hot-air balloon to break the distance, altitude, and duration records (currently 19.01 miles, 37,625 feet, and nine minutes six seconds, respectively). The atmosphere at that elevation contains just 3.5 percent available oxygen, so Corsan will need to pack three hours’ worth of breathable air for the ride. If all goes as planned, he’ll fly for ten minutes over 20 miles of farmland.
The Gear He'll Use
- At these heights, the temperature drops to minus 94 degrees, so Corsan will don several sets of insulating base layers and heated gloves.
- A lightweight, 16-inch carbon-fiber oxygen container, similar to a diving tank, will be incorporated into his suit, providing up to 45 minutes of breathing time.
- Navigational units embedded in his helmet will provide Siri-style prompts telling him when to jump and to pull his chute.
- Corsan will use a $2,000 ripstop-nylon wingsuit built by Croatia-based Phoenix-Fly. The wings’ extra-large surface area should increase hang time.