Scientific Approach Used in Wingsuit Design

A University of Southampton researcher and skydiver named Angelo Grubisic is doing highly technical research to make wingsuits safer and better. The outdoor sport of wingsuit skydiving – where participants jump out of airplanes or off of cliffs and use a special suit to “fly” through the air before landing with a traditional parachute – is growing increasing popular, but the wingsuits themselves are not always designed using rigorous scientific principles and development techniques.

 

To change this, Grubisic is working with a team of fellow researchers at the University of Southampton and testing wingsuit designs in a wind tunnel and crunching the data using a supercomputer. The result, he hopes, will be new wingsuits that allow humans to sail through the air in the manner of a flying squirrel for many miles at great speeds.

Until now, wingsuits have mostly been developed by trial and error rather than by using established aeronautical research and testing methods simply because the sport is still developing.

 

Grubisic says he is creating better wingsuits to reduce deaths and injuries; however, his critics counter that current wingsuits are safe enough, it’s just that some people practice the sport in a reckless manner. Regardless, if Grubisic can bring a high-quality and relatively safe wingsuit to market, it is likely that the sport will undergo an enormous boost in popularity.

 

In my opinion, what Grubisic is doing is a good thing. While some people will always refuse to take safety precautions when wingsuiting, just as some people will always refuse to wear a seat belt in a car, at least the option to do so will be there. I’m looking forward to hearing about some record-breaking wingsuit flights in the near future.

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