Women Take Flight—The 2023 Women’s Wingsuiting World Record
Records | Jan 01, 2024
Women Take Flight—The 2023 Women’s Wingsuiting World Record

Marie Clark

Above: Photo by Daniel Dupuis.

The energy the weekend of November 2-5 was intense, as 19 tenacious women sought to establish a Féderátion Aéronautique Internationale Women’s World Record for Largest No-Grip Wingsuit Formation at Skydive Perris in California. During the same weekend, a group of female freeflyers was going after a head-up state record, so the drop zone was abuzz with excitement. 

Enhancing the intensity and challenge of setting the wingsuit record, all of the women used Squirrel’s Freak wingsuit, a large, high-performance suit. Historically, those who set wingsuit records fly in smaller-sized wingsuits, but this group opted for a suit with a higher performance range due to its recovery potential should a flyer get burbled out of the formation or fall behind. Based on FlySight data, the group had a forward speed of roughly 105-110 mph during the attempts. They were flying!

Photo by Dan Dupuis.

Setting the Bar

The event started at 9 a.m. on Thursday, and the organizers immediately started putting up 18-way record attempts. The challenge was to quickly learn how to fly as a team, utilizing individual strengths to benefit the group as a whole. Although many in the group had never flown together or participated in a large wingsuit formation, each jumper had a high skill level and athletic drive and tackled learning the formation build, sight picture and sight lines head on. In a mere four flights together, they set the bar for the women’s wingsuit world record at 18.

Midday Saturday, the women found an opportunity to best their previous performance by one when a participant who had a previous injury was well enough to rejoin the group! With a slight alteration in the flight formation based on learned sight pictures and the strengths of the group members, the wingsuiters set out to break their own record with a 19-way. On the third attempt, squeezing in one last opportunity before day’s end, the group poured out of the plane and achieved what can only be summarized as the most serene of zen sunset flights.

Photo by Dan Dupuis.

Photo by Dan Dupuis.

I’m Not Crying; You’re Crying!

Were the tears due to flying into the low setting sun or from experiencing the bond of multiple flyers locking into the flight as one? Both, perhaps. Everyone landed, packed and watched the videos while judges Steve Hubbard, Jami Pillasch and Alix Raymond did their thing. Regardless of the outcome, the group was proud of the flight—its stability, proximity and what it signified as possible for women in the sport.

Camera flyers Jeff Carlucci, Dan Dupuis and Will Kitto provided videos and photos for judging purposes. When the judges came in and applied the grid overlay to the best image from the flight, which clearly showed the flyers solidly within each square, the room erupted with cheers all around. Uncorked champagne soon sprayed upon the judges’ keyboards, debriefing TVs and everything and everyone else in the room. The team had achieved a new 19-way Women’s World Record for Largest No-Grip Wingsuit Formation (pending ratification by the FAI) and corresponding Women’s California State, U.S. Open National and North American Continental Records!

Skydive Perris supported the effort and sponsors Cookie Helmets, iFLY Oceanside, Larsen & Brusgaard, Manufactory Apparel, Performance Designs, SSK Industries, Squirrel, United Parachute Technologies, Velocity Sports Equipment and Vertical Suits supported the effort and encouraged the team to thrive. During the weekend, the women also had the support and encouragement of the California women’s head-up record team. That group, led by Jazmyne Kahler and Courtney Moore, set a state record 12-way formation on the same weekend, and both groups were able to celebrate their successes together.

Photo by Dan Dupuis.

More To Come?

Between crushing records, the wingsuiting women set their sights on the future of the discipline. The group played around with vertical formations and sequential (vertical-vertical and horizontal-to-vertical, etc.) multi-point wingsuit formations. They presented footage of these formations to the judges (who were conveniently on site) for preliminary discussions on methods for judging and recording vertical and sequential formations using the grid system currently in use for other wingsuit formation records. They presented the footage and their findings to the Wingsuit Committee of the FAI’s International Skydiving Commission, and the FAI will consider the addition of vertical and sequential wingsuit records during its Plenary Meeting in Orlando, Florida, in February 2024.

Those who are interested in the topic may review the proposed record language and a presentation outline at fai.org/isc-documents under the Skydiving Commission/Meetings/2024-Orlando tabs. Those who wish to support the measure can reach out to their country's ISC Delegate. That list is available at fai.org/page/isc-delegates.


About the Author

Marie Clark, D-37393, is a wingsuit coach and organizer at Skydive Perris who organized the 2023 Women’s Wingsuit World Record and co-organizes the SheFlocks women’s wingsuit events. If she’s not wingsuiting, she’s doing canopy formations, helping out with AFF students or freeflying in the wind tunnel. An architect Mondays through Fridays, she finds herself at the DZ almost every weekend.

 

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