The most experienced divers in the world descend on China to take part in the most daunting skydiving competition around. For those eager to secure the title of World Wingsuit Champion, the stakes couldn’t be higher.
Taking place in Zhangjiajie, China’s Hunan province, the daredevils ascended nearly five thousand feet to take their great leap into the expansive mountain backdrop. A popular tourist area filled with national landmarks, Zhangjiajie has longed been a getaway from the city life, as it resides about six hundred miles away from Beijing and Shanghai. With the divers descending upon the area, on a moments notice, Zhangjiajie National Rainforest suddenly has a new species amongst the clouds, modern birds of prey that a true marvels of nature. These high octane athletes can be seen swooping through the mountainside on a mission to smash tiny targets set up across that pepper the cliff. Tourist come from far and wide to take in the festivities of the annual event that has taken the skydiving world by storm.
The competition truly features the best of the best. They feature the state of the art gear, ranging from parachutes, GPS devices, cameras, and helmets that allow them to reach up to 200 mph in conjunction with their specially designed suits. The nylon fabric creates an aerodynamic suit that allows the divers to travel at speeds previously unknown in competitive skydiving, while maintaining the expert control required to navigate the course safely.
Nailing the bullseye awards you fifty points. Seven divers from nations across the world participated in the event, and the eventual winner, thirty nine year old Brazilian daredevil Gabriel Lott, earned 90 points over his two jumps to secure the win. An army veteran after enlisting at the age of eighteen, Lott went on to join the police special forces as a sniper. After a tense shootout with gang members in the favelas of Rio, Lott suffered numerous gunshot wounds that threatened his life.
“I am really lucky to be here today,” said Lott, who during his rehab from the gunshot wounds dreamt of packing his wing and heading back out into the sky. After over two months over intensive rehabilitation, he returned to the sky a new man. “After the ghost gate was gone, I cherished every chance of flying,” remarked Lott. He went on to complete over six hundred and twenty fixed point parachute jumps and five hundred and forty winged flights since 2009. The world championships proved to be his crowning achievement, and he’s eager to test his skills and defend his title against a new crop of opponents next year.