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Around the Nation
Thu May 31, 2012
Man With 'Wing Suit' Makes Skydive Sans Parachute
Originally published on Thu May 31, 2012 10:58 pm
ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:
Now, from the high flying Spurs to a 2,400 foot skydive with nothing but a wing suit and a pile of cardboard boxes to break the fall. That's exactly what Gary Connery did. He had a parachute, but he didn't use it and - spoiler alert - he survived the jump and joins us now to talk about it.
Welcome to the program.
GARY CONNERY: Thank you. Thanks for having me.
SIEGEL: I've just said that you jumped with a wing suit as if I know what that means. I want you to describe what the wing suit was.
CONNERY: If you can imagine a flying squirrel, but without the tail, and it's made of nylon and I have air intakes which, when I jump and I fall through the air, air is taken in through the air intakes and it inflates the suit. So it's kind of like flying inside a double air bed.
SIEGEL: And this particular jump, the skydive you made with it, was this the first real test of the wing suit or had you done much smaller falls with it? How confident were you?
CONNERY: OK. A couple of questions there. It was certainly the first landing of the wing suit, so I've done a bunch of tests where I've been flying to specific targets, so that would be base jumping. So jumping from a cliff and flying to, say, a bush or a tree that is sticking off a ridgeline that I could buzz just to perfect my ability to hit the targets that I choose to hit. And then, obviously, on those jumps I would deploy a parachute when I was in a safe space to do so.
But, yeah. For sure, on the day here, it was purely about not deploying a parachute and landing in a big pile of cardboard boxes.
SIEGEL: So what were you thinking on the way down?
CONNERY: Yeah. A few people have asked me what I was thinking on the way down and, in truth, I was really so focused - there's very little time to actually think, oh, you know, did I pick up the milk? And, oh, I must get some cheese when I go to the supermarket next time. You know, you don't think those kind of thoughts. You're so focused on the job at hand and it was really about flying, dealing with turbulence. I don't know whether you've seen the footage, but there was a lot of turbulence and that was bouncing me around quite a lot, although I was still on a true track for the boxes.
So it was really just focusing on a point and maintaining the site picture that I was happy with.
SIEGEL: Considering that you are a professional stunt man and people perhaps have seen your work in "Die Another Day" or "Batman Begins," does this suggest what you might be doing in some movie in the near future? Can you imagine using the wing suit? Or have you used a wing suit in actual movies so far?
CONNERY: I haven't, albeit I was very close to. I was working on "Prometheus" and my job was basically to do a wing suit proximity flight, so in other words, close to a cliff. And unfortunately for me, Ridley Scott, who was directing, whilst I was out in Italy training and working in the area that we were going to be doing this jump, he'd seen a couple of films that had wing suits flying in them and he turned around and said, right. There's too many films at the moment with wing suits in them. We're canning it. Let's go. We're not doing it.
SIEGEL: This is probably a pattern. By next week, it'll be - what? Just another 2,400 foot skydive in a wing suit without a parachute? Nothing new there.
CONNERY: Yeah, exactly. You know, everyone will be doing it next week.
SIEGEL: Somehow, I suspect there won't be that many. But thanks for talking with us about your skydive.
CONNERY: Brilliant. Thanks for having me, Robert.
SIEGEL: That's Gary Connery. Last week, he jumped out of a helicopter without deploying a parachute and he landed safely in a large pile of cardboard boxes.
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MELISSA BLOCK, HOST:
This is NPR. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright National Public Radio.