World renowned Swiss wingsuit flyer Ueli 'Sputnik' Gegenschatz, who recently base jumped from the world famous Eiffel Tower in Paris, travelled to the west coast of Ireland over the Bank Holiday weekend to compete a unique project.
'Sputnik' flew unaided a distance of 17.6kms, which is the longest recorded flight distance in a wingsuit ever undertaken, gliding from above the edge of Inis Mor over Galway Bay to Connemara regional airport near Inverin in Co Galway. Sputnik also beat the flight time of the Aer Arann Islander passenger aircraft, which travels this route daily in seven minutes, by a full 75 seconds.
In order to complete the distance, 'Sputnik' needed to exit his skydiving aircraft at an altitude of 4,500 metres. He flew across the Atlantic waters at a glide ratio of 1:4 metres travelling at an average speed of 250km/hr with the aid of a strong tailwind. The passenger aircraft, with a top speed of 193km/hr, took off from Inis Mor airstrip cruising at an altitude of 200 metres as 'Sputnik' exited his aircraft high above the island.
'Sputnik' released his parachute 200 metres above the mainland before touching down on the runway at Connemara Regional Airport clocking a time of 5 mins 45 sec. "I was fortunate to have very strong tailwinds on the day which increased my chances of making the long distance. It enabled me to reach an average speed of 250km/hr and make the crossing. I was happy not to land in the ocean as I've heard the Irish waters are very cold!"
"Sputnik" has been on a global quest to find the most challenging terrains of the world to traverse in his specially designed wingsuit. His adventures have brought him to The Matterhorn in the Swiss Alps, Popocatepetl, the second highest peak in Mexico and now to the Aran Islands on the Atlantic coast of Ireland.
Using a Garmin GPS tracking device on his wrist, Sputnik transmitted data back to his laptop on the ground which calculated his top speed and average speed during the race.