Gary Connery, a 42-year old stuntman, has become the first man to jump 2,400 feet (731 meters) and land safely – without the use of a parachute. Years of training and a specially-designed wingsuit are to be credited for this truly intrepid feat.
Connery gave his flabbergasting performance in (or, rather, above) Ridge Wood in Buckinghamshire, England.
Thousands of people gathered to watch the daredevil make his ascent in a helicopter. They were soon able to witness Connery leap out of the helicopter, followed by his cameraman (equipped with a parachute) though from that height the pair appeared to be a couple of colored dots on a blue background.
Seconds later his falling speed reached 80 mph (128 km/h). The stuntman flared his so-called wingsuit to bring his gliding velocity down to 50 mph (80 km/h) and his vertical falling speed down to 15 mph (24 km/h). Spreading his wingsuit out gave Connery the appearance of a flying squirrel. He then glared his way down onto a special strip made out of cardboard boxes, which cushioned his fall to the ground. Connery then appeared before the cheering crowd unscathed. He was kissed by his wife Vivienne, and he celebrated his achievement with a bottle of champagne.
He then addressed reporters eager to get the word from the record-breaker himself. Connery appeared to be brimming with joy over his accomplishment.
“I’m overwhelmed with the whole crew,” he said. “I mean, look at the size of that rig that people have put together for me this morning. It was so comfortable, so soft. My calculations have obviously worked out and I’m glad they did.”
The daredevil’s family, along with other stuntmen, spent four hours constructing the makeshift runway.
His wife, Vivienne, also came out to talk about how she felt now that her husband had set the record.
“I’m relieved it’s all over,” she chuckled.
“It’s not over, we’ve gotta take the boxes down now,” her husband noted jokingly.
As for the flight itself, Connery noted that despite a gust of wind that almost set him off course, he was able to make it in the end.
“I started to fly very stably, very quickly, and there must have been some turbulence because I was experiencing a lot of bouncing in that flight that I hadn’t experienced before.”
The stuntman made two test flights before, but used a parachute on both occasions.
Connery is a renowned stuntman and stunt coordinator, whose film credits include Batman Begins and Die Another Day. He has also made 880 sky dives and 440 base jumps, leaping from landmarks such as the Eiffel Tower, the Tower Bridge, the London Eye and Nelson’s Column.