For those who ever puzzled what it seems like to leap out of a aircraft and free-glide by way of the sky in a kite-like wingsuit at 200 miles an hour, Chris Geiler is the most effective particular person to ask.
Final month, the 41-year-old Oceanside resident gained the worldwide championship because the No. 1 particular person wingsuit efficiency flyer on the 2021 World Parachuting Championships in Russia. And along with his two teammates, Joe Ridler and Alexey Galda of Chicago, he additionally earned the crew wingsuit gold medal for the US.
Geiler describes the feeling he feels as he soars by way of the sky at 4,000 to 12,000 ft as intense, thrilling and somewhat nerve-wracking, because it’s very windy up there and a problem to remain in management. However the married dad — who works full-time for GoJump Oceanside on the Oceanside Municipal Airport — mentioned what drives him most isn’t the enjoyable of flying however his need to be the most effective. He first claimed the No. 1 title in 2016 and has spent the previous 5 years working his method again to the highest.
“Due to my aggressive nature, how I do up there may be by no means adequate. Each run I do, I may have executed it higher. I’m not completed but,” he mentioned.
The primary wingsuit was created in 1930 by a Los Angeles parachutist who needed to attain extra horizontal flight throughout his vertical skydiving. The swimsuit design was impressed by flying squirrels who can glide a shocking distance by catching air within the pocketlike flaps of pores and skin between their legs and arms. The trendy jumpsuit got here alongside within the Nineties. Right now, the fits are made from supplies like Parapack, a sturdy and densely woven nylon cloth.
When the flyer drops out of a aircraft, air chambers within the swimsuit replenish with air and provides the swimsuit a semi-rigidity that permits the flyer to journey horizontally like a human glider aircraft for as much as three minutes earlier than they open their parachute at 3,000 to 4,000 ft and drift to the bottom.
Geiler bought into aggressive wingsuit flying in 2015. It was the newest in an extended line of sports activities pursuits. He grew up on the southern coast of Australia within the city of Torquay, which is dwelling to the well-known browsing spot Bells Seashore. He surfed and scuba-dived however his first aggressive sport of selection as a boy was working, each cross-country and street racing. He made it to the state finals in working, however issues along with his knees led him to modify to aggressive bicycle racing.
In highschool, he was biking as much as 500 miles each week, with the purpose of competing on the European bike-racing circuit. However on the time, cycle-racing was plagued with doping issues and Geiler didn’t need to compete in opposition to bikers who cheated. In his early 20s, he took his first skydiving lesson and was hooked. However as a lot as he loved the game, it was too costly to pursue in Australia, so he began touring.
Over the following decade, Geiler spent a snow season in Canada working at a ski resort, purchased a van with a pal and drove it throughout the US to Florida, after which spent the following six years crewing yachts within the U.S. and Europe. Then in Italy in 2012, Geiler and a pal began coaching critically in skydiving and wingsuit flying.
Eight years in the past, he moved to California, the place it’s simpler and extra inexpensive to coach within the year-round sunny climate. After six years in Santa Cruz, he moved to Oceanside in 2019 along with his spouse and son, who will flip 3 subsequent month. Geiler mentioned he prefers Southern California as a result of it’s a serious hub for the skydiving trade and he needs his son to develop up subsequent to a seashore, like he did.
Wingsuit-flying will be harmful, however Geiler mentioned leaping from a aircraft and touchdown with a parachute is way safer than base-jump wingsuit flying. In his greater than 3,500 jumps, Geiler mentioned he’s by no means had an in depth name with demise.
“I delight myself on being level-headed,” he mentioned.
In competitors, wingsuit flyers are judged on three standards: horizontal distance, flight time and pace. Geiler mentioned with the intention to inflate the swimsuit, wingsuit flyers dive straight down and might attain a vertical pace of as much as 200 miles an hour earlier than leveling off to fly horizontally. With a purpose to fly your physique like a glider aircraft, he mentioned, a wingsuit flyer should study to know the physics of wind stress, elevate and different rules.
“It’s such as you’re balancing on the high quality line between being in management and being uncontrolled,” he mentioned.
On the 2021 World Parachuting Championships in August, Geiler amassed a near-perfect score of 299.1 whole factors for distance, pace and time, beating out his nearest competitor, Polish flyer Dawid Winczewski, by greater than 10 factors. His U.S. teammates, Galda and Ridler, got here in third and fifth, respectively, which helped energy the trio to the crew gold medal forward of Russia, Poland, Denmark and Finland. The wingsuit efficiency division had 35 particular person flyers from 13 nations.
With a purpose to compete on the worldwide championship, the three flyers who earn probably the most factors on the nationwide stage are chosen every year. The following nationwide match takes place in Arizona in late October. Not like many aggressive sports activities, wingsuit flying doesn’t appeal to many well-heeled sponsors or any federal funding. So Geiler pays for his jumps and coaching by working at GoJump. He additionally serves as a take a look at pilot for Squirrel, a Seattle-based wingsuit and parachute maker.
“I like serving to seek the advice of for them to create new fits,” he mentioned. “They’re at all times on the innovative, and every little thing we study there trickles right down to create higher efficiency for everybody within the trade.”