Wingsuit Flying Deaths

In the past two decades, there have been at least 15 confirmed deaths from wingsuit flying. In recent years, there has been a steady increase in the number of recorded fatalities attributed to wingsuits and suit-flying activities. The majority of these accidents occurred during BASE jumps where a thin fabric wing is worn between the body and a skydiving or BASE container. With the exception of one case all fatalities involved experienced wingsuit flyers with more than 200 BASE jumps to their credit.

Taken with a GoPro whilst wingsuiting over the East Midlands in the UK. Every time I see this photo it reminds me how much I want to get back in the air.
Taken with a GoPro whilst wingsuiting over the East Midlands in the UK. Every time I see this photo it reminds me how much I want to get back in the air.

Suit-borne flight accidents are related to human factors and equipment problems. The most common causes were pilot error, non-standard exit (exiting out of sequence), uncontrolled flight into terrain, loss of horizontal or vertical control, collision with objects or other people, uncontrolled spins , canopy entanglements (with the jumper’s parachute) and premature deployment of parachutes (canopy collisions). A number of fatalities resulted from low altitude structural failures . Some accidents were caused by wind gusts which led to loss of familiarization time where students failed to fly parallel lines. Also there insufficient training in how to respond correctly to sudden loss of lift or increased sink rate.


Low body position leading to premature deployment of the main parachute was also a common cause. Accidents were often associated with low altitude flying, steep banks, high speed and fast opening parachutes which led to collisions between suit flyers and their canopies . Loss of orientation was cited in many cases while some students failed to properly maneuver around other jumpers during training exercises causing collisions with them or buildings on the ground. Other causes included excessive banking angles on final approach leading to loss of control where the jumper skied into objects such as trees, poles or rocks. The last fatalities resulting from wingsuit activities occurred on 28 May 2010 in Voss (Norway) when two experienced wingsuit flyers collided with each other while flying in close proximity to each other.

Wingsuit flyers who wish to increase their safety should be aware of the risks involved, especially when they fly in areas where there are hills or mountains or where flight patterns cross directly over objects on the ground. Furthermore, they must be familiar with their equipment including the suit and parachute system. They should use caution during steep dives for maneuvers at low altitude where time is limited for recovery if something goes wrong especially when flying head down near terrain features that might pose a risk of injury or death .

It was concluded that fatalities resulting from wingsuit activities are mostly avoidable incidents which could have been avoided by making more informed choices before taking part in this activity. Primary factors contributing to fatal accidents include lack of experience, lack of skills and knowledge, inappropriate decision making process as well as an increase in certain thrill-seeking behavior. Another critical factor is the instructor’s failure to provide proper education and guidance about wingsuit risks and hazards.

A Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) report published in 2014 suggested that the use of connected devices such as cameras during skydiving could lead to distractions and affect a jumper’s ability to maintain awareness. It was also noted that: “Earlier this year media reported two parachutes failing due to snagged risers caused by people using camera equipment during jumps just before the malfunctions occurred”. This report concluded that it is important for skydivers not to use these types of while jumping because they can be deadly, or worse, if a jumper is distracted or not paying attention by operating them.

In conclusion the most common causes of wingsuit flights accidents were addressed as follows:

  • Pilot error – due to lack of experience and skills, incorrect decisions at critical times and poor judgement during low-level flying close to terrain.
  • Non standard exit – jumping out of sequence can lead to problems with orientation and awareness where jumpers lose familiarization with the environment around them.
  • Loss of control – these types of incidents are characterized by steep dives followed by steep climbs which result in losing the desired speed for controlled flight near the ground where it is difficult to recover if something goes wrong. This often ends up in collisions with objects causing injury or death.
  • Collisions with other jumpers – these accidents are often associated with low altitude flying, high speed and steep banks where a jumper is unable to avoid collisions with others because of poor visual awareness during maneuvers in close proximity to other jumpers.
Scroll to Top
Skip to content