Wing-Suits: Humans Surpassing Animals in Flight

The wing suit, the closest man has gotten to the dream of unassisted flight, was originally developed in the 1930s to fabric between the legs and from the arms to the waist.  The originals were made out of wood, canvas, steel, and whale bone (as you can imagine, not very reliable). increase horizontal movement.  They were redeveloped in the 1990s to sport its modern look and design of connecting

Initially they were used merely for jumping out of airplanes, but the dare devils of the world wouldn’t let that stand.  Jumping from incredible heights out of a moving object only to plummet towards the earth and nearly 100 mph wasn’t scary enough.  Now people called base jumpers (or cliff jumpers) launch themselves off of mountains and bridges and monuments so they can experience the thrill of carving around sharp cliffs for (surprisingly) up to 3 or more minutes.

The idea for these incredible suits was generated with inspiration from the flying squirrel.  Although they may look similar in shape and structure, some people could argue that we have them surpassed them due to a couple simple factors.

First, for starters the glide ratio for a wing suit is between 2 and 3.  This means that for every foot lost in altitude it travels horizontally 2 to 3 feet.  In comparison a flying squirrel is only about 1.98.

And second, squirrels average a flight of 5-25 feet, usually never beyond 45.  Humans in wing suits can travel for miles and miles.  Given this is because we have the technology to carry us up thousands of feet in the air, that’s just one more reason why we have surpassed the squirrel in flight (although I don’t know how big of an accomplishment that really is).

The suits give the human enough control to make and hold formations with other surrounding divers (An example can be seen in the picture to the left).

The fundamental national use for these suits is for the military.  They allow special operatives to be dropped a few miles from their targets and approach them undetected on radar.
Assisted landing is probably the only thing that squirrels have over us.  They are able to redirect their velocity upwards at the end of their flight allowing them to slow down enough to land safely as seen in the diagram

In the future the glide ratios will increase and the fundamental problem of necessary assisted landing will be solved making gliding much safer for the common man.

Check out this cool video for more insight on the maneuverability of the wing suit:


One Comment

Lorena Barba posted on September 28, 2012 at 7:16 pm

There’s some sloppy bits of text here, Daniel!
After reading this, I have several questions: was the wingsuit *really* inspired by flying squirrels? What happened with the first attempts in the 1930s? Are they really used by the military? (or are they only a thrill sport)