The Freedom and Risk of Wingsuit Flying: Sean Leary

By James Fallows

I mentioned last week that I was admiringly fascinated by wingsuit videos but could never imagine leaping off those cliffs myself.

In the video below, Sean "Stanley" Leary, a very well-known figure in the field, describes the exhilaration and freedom he has found in this pursuit. "The best part -- well, there's a lot of best parts, but the first best part..." he says late in this clip.

Sean's Freedom from Chad Copeland on Vimeo.

What he is describing sounds dangerous, and is. Earlier this month Sean Leary was killed, at age 38, during a wingsuit flight at Zion National Park in Utah. You can read more about his story here and here.


The video above is of course all the more poignant in light of how his deliberate embrace of risk ended. But it is also very eloquent, just on its own. For instance, compare Leary's description, during the first minute of this clip, of the "exit" or moment of leaping off and beginning flight, with what you see starting at time 1:40 in the well-known clip below.

Or with what you see starting at time 0:15 of this terrifying one, from Italy.

This is posted to close the loop after previous wingsuit mentions, and to note the outlook with which Leary and his colleagues approach these risks, and with great sympathies for his wife, who is now pregnant with their first child.

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This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2014/03/the-freedom-and-risk-of-wingsuit-flying-sean-leary/359696/