Can You Land With A Wingsuit on Water?

A wingsuit pilot captured mid-flight as he soars off a cliff, set against a stunning mountainous backdrop. The wingsuit is white with red accents, complemented by a black helmet. The pilot is positioned diagonally, head-down, arms and legs extended to navigate the air currents. The scene is framed by a clear blue sky and the rugged terrain of the rocky mountain.
Wingsuits Are Not Fit For Landing

What goes up must come back down! Whether wingsuiting out of an airplane door or from atop a mountain peak, a safe landing on the ground is essential. But can you land a wingsuit on water without a parachute?

You cannot land on water with a wingsuit without a parachute. Wingsuits are designed to increase their wearer’s surface area and aid their lift and glide – but they do not give enough air resistance to replace a parachute when landing.

Now you may be thinking – Wait a minute! I’ve seen a video on the internet of a man in a wingsuit landing on water! Well let’s deep dive into why current wingsuit designs are not compatible for a water landing, the truth about videos of a water landing and whether anyone is working on designing wingsuits for landing.

Why Can You Not Land Wingsuits On Water?

1. Wingsuits Are Designed to Fly and Not to Land

Wingsuits – also known as “birdman suits” or “squirrel suits” (due to their resemblance to an airborne flying squirrel) – are designed to extend their wearer’s horizontal glide but are not intended for even a ground landing, let alone a water landing and are certainly not a replacement for parachutes.

Wingsuit pilots can flare or do a few body movements to decrease their forward and vertical speed but it is still not as efficient as a parachute landing wherein the user’s speed is reduced by at least 95% and the landing speed is only a paltry 1-6 mph.

Check this post to learn more about the inventor of the first commercial wingsuit.

2. The Forward and Downward Speed of a Wingsuit Is Way Too Fast

A typical wingsuit pilot jumping out from a helicopter or BASE location will experience an average speed of 100 mph – equivalent to a 3:1 glide ratio (i.e., 3 feet of horizontal momentum for every foot of vertical descent) and a wind speed between 15-20 mph – which is an extremely fast speed for landing and can be dangerous if wrongly executed!

Another issue is the trajectory or the flight path.

A wingsuit pilot attempting to land will be in a belly-to-earth position wherein both his arms and legs will be spread out compared to someone wearing a parachute who can land in either a standing or sitting position with more control and manageability. Any sudden movement of any parts of the body of a wingsuit pilot will entirely change his angle of attack while landing.

3. Water Impact Can Cause Serious Injuries or Even Fatalities to the Wingsuit Pilots

If athletic divers incorrectly enter the water from a height of just 32.8 ft (Olympic standards) or 88.5 ft (open-air locations), they are prone to develop spinal cord injuries.

With that in mind, imagine coming in from a height of above 2,500 ft with a forward speed of 100 mph!

Divers safely enter the water at the correct angle of entry such as diving straight (with their hands together and arms straight above the head), feet-first dive, or tuck position which creates an entry point that has a vacuum effect and minimizes water impact.

However, a wingsuit pilot’s hands are inside his suit, restricting his movements. As a result of this bad form, a wingsuit pilot might bounce or enter the water headfirst on impact and suffer serious injuries.

What’s the Truth Behind the Water Landing of Raphael Dumont?

On 8 October 2013, Raphael Dumont and his team posted a video of his wingsuit flying from the edge of a mountain that faced the beautiful Lake Garda in Italy.

On day 1, the team discussed the pre-jump plan of how Raphael would attempt to be the first person to perform a wingsuit water landing without a parachute.

On Day 2, which was the jump date, they climbed the mountain for about 2 hours until they reached the right spot. Raphael then seemed to go on a vertical freefall before gliding around the edge of the mountain and reaching the lake where he appeared to successfully and fortunately land in the water without any injury.

The apparent World Record attempt became an instant internet sensation and its recording was shared 32,000 times across Facebook and Twitter within a day of being uploaded!

Here’s the viral video, go see it for yourself.

The Well-Known Fake Video

However, despite the video’s popularity there was widespread debate about whether it was real or a hoax as it was simply inconceivable that someone could land a wingsuit on water unaided. Many believed in Raphael Dumont’s attempt.

However, the record was set straight when on 12 May 2015, Stu Dolley, the Managing Director at The Others Beauty Co. admitted in a post on LinkedIn that the viral video was a fake, and had only been produced by them to promote a product called “Wingman 3 in 1 Jet Wash Multi Gel” – a product that was briefly shown on the video at the time stamped 1:16.

“We created a fictional action sports character, Raphael Dumont (who was actually an English actor) who effortlessly jumps off a cliff in a wing suit and lands on the water without pulling his parachute.”

Stu jolley

Stu mentioned that The Others Beauty Co was a small grooming business with an absolute zero budget for TV advertisements which resulted in them creating a viral video that would result in mass exposure of their brand.

It also turned out that Raphael Dumont actually did not exist and was in fact a fictional character played by an English actor. The video makers intentionally used an amateur GoPro shot for the landing to provoke emotion for viewers to share it and to divide public opinion. After all – all publicity is good publicity!

Even though the video is revealed to be a complete fabrication, it still trends and currently has around 9,200,887 views.

If you want to watch true stunts, make sure to check out my article about the 13 most insane wingsuit stunts – trust me they will take your breath away and change the way you think about wingsuit flying.

Why Landing Wingsuits on Water is Not Feasible
Overview Of Limitations of Landing Wingsuits on Water

Is There Someone Currently Working on a Water Landing Project?

No one has explicitly announced that they are working on a wingsuit capable of water landing but, it is believed that around six teams from across the world (New Zealand, South Africa, Russia, France, and the United States) are secretly working on wingsuit landing projects.

As with all secrets, the details are scarce and so it is unknown if their project objectives are to ensure ground or water landings. However what is known is that the teams have the same goal: “Land using a wingsuit without the aid of a parachute.”

Over the years, only two individuals have been outspoken about their wingsuit landing projects.

Jeb Corliss, an experienced American wingsuit pilot and BASE jumper with more than 2,000 jumps under his belt began a parachute-less landing project he aptly named “The Wingsuit Landing Project”. He designed a special runway on which he would land, similar to a Nordic skiing slope.

However, due to a lack of funding combined with a serious injury, the project had to, unfortunately, be suspended. Additionally, in the intervening time, Gary Connery managed to successfully execute a wingsuit landing without the help of a parachute.

Maria von Egidy, the owner of Jii-wings (a wingsuit manufacturer in South Africa) started designing and creating wingsuits that allow for a horizontal surface landing. However, she is still looking for sponsors to finance her wingsuit project and so it remains merely in the developmental stage.

With the advancement of technology, the possibilities are endless, and the race is on to see who can be the first to land unaided on the ground or water with just a wingsuit!

If you are interested in what wingsuit is all about and everything it has to offer, I wrote two articles that can answer all your questions. The first is my ultimate wingsuit guide where I explain where I break down every aspect of this thrilling sport. From the nitty-gritty details to the excitement it brings, including a deep dive into the challenges and risks that come with it.

The second one answers the big question, “how much does wingsuit flying cost?”. In this article, I’ll walk you through the financial side of wingsuit flying, giving you a clear understanding of what it takes financially to soar through the skies. Plus, I’ll even share some savvy tips on how to make the most of your money, helping you balance the exhilaration with practicality.

Enjoy your freefall!

Kai Schmidt

Hi, I'm Kai. The first time I jumped out of an airplane and experienced free fall was one of the most amazing moments of my life. For me, skydiving does not only stand for freedom and independence but being present in the moment and being respectful to others and oneself. Now I want to share what I’ve learned with you.

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The image illustrates the reasons why wingsuits cannot be landed on water.