For the average human, plummeting to earth involves tripping over in the Tesco carpark. For professional skydiver Marco Waltenspiel, 35, one of the four man team who jump with the Red Bull Sky Dive team, plummeting to earth means stepping off the edge of a cliff wearing a wingsuit and utilising the time spent between cliff-top and ground performing what Buzz Lightyear would describe as ‘falling with style’.
Wingsuit flying began at the end of the 90s and, like all adrenaline sports, has been pretty much perfected by energy drink specialists, Red Bull, over the decades. As one of their flyers, Marco’s hugely popular videos are essentially due to the fact he’s happy to do what most of us are not: risk everything for the perfect shot. And it works. A short Instagram video on The Sportsman’s Instagram page of Marco dropping face first down a mountain pulled in such rapid numbers that we thought it only right we got in touch with the daredevil to find out what makes him tick.
“It’s something that takes a fair bit of practice,” Marco laughs when we speak to him. “I’ve been skydiving since 2001, and base jumping since 2008. My father was jumping for as long as I can remember and he was a big influence on me for sure.”
Is it an expensive sport to get into?
“Yes it’s kind of an expensive sport when you start. I put all my money into this sport and I got started because for me it’s the nearest you can get to flying like a bird, so it was always my goal to jump in a wingsuit.”
Have you ever jumped off a mountain and immediately had second thoughts?
“I’ve never jumped and thought …sh*t! The most important thing is to say ‘No, I’m not going to jump’ when you think the conditions aren’t right. It’s only dangerous when you don't use your brain and do jumps in bad conditions.”
For us land-lovers, describe how it feels to fly through the sky
“It’s hard to describe, but it feels like free-riding in deep snow, it’s just that you always have the first line in the sky. The best place to fly is at home; I love the Alps and the landscape in middle Europe! My highest jump was in the Czech Republic from 6200m out of a sky van (purpose built skydiving plane).
Finally, it looks so simple, but how much work goes into a jump before you even step off the edge?
I have a lot of equipment: 6 wing suits, 3 base rigs, 3 skydive rigs, 4 canopies… so yes, there’s a lot of work, especially as my team and I are professional skydivers and we jump for a living. We do all the organisation on our own, which means organising events, shows, projects and working with our sponsors. So there’s quite a lot of work behind the scenes for every jump.