Birdman flies north-south over Jersey in a wingsuit
A SKYDIVER has completed a solo flight across Jersey, flying from the north to south coast while wearing a wingsuit.
The daredevil feat, believed to be the first of its kind, saw Mike Stocks leap from a plane at 15,000 feet just to the west of Sorel and fly southwards for almost five miles before landing on the beach at St Aubin’s Bay.
Mr Stocks, who first skydived in 2014 and has flown using a wingsuit for the past three years, took advantage of near-perfect conditions to take on the challenge on Wednesday afternoon.
Wearing a £1,500 Squirrel wingsuit, the 38-year-old flew for around three minutes before deploying his parachute and landing about four minutes later near the Gunsite café.
‘It had been planned for a while, but you need the right conditions, and we had a larger plane that was flown over from France in order to get up to the necessary altitude,’ he said.
After ‘dropping off’ some other passengers who were doing ‘normal’ skydives, the pilot ascended to 15,000 feet but then advised his only remaining passenger of a delay due to air traffic requirements.
‘It was a long ten minutes, and the pilot was busy so I didn’t have anyone to talk to,’ added Mr Stocks, who works as an IT infrastructure engineer at Lloyds Bank. ‘I needed to focus on the exit, making sure that we weren’t too far away from the north coast but also that the flight started before we had crossed it.
‘I’m used to seeing the south coast, so it was a different perspective – the views were phenomenal.’
The flight was Mr Stocks’ 728th time in the air, having completed just over 200 jumps under the tutelage of Mal Richardson from Skydive Jersey before donning a wingsuit for the first time.
‘You start off with a small wingsuit, and then work up,’ he said. ‘It’s probably a bit more risky than regular skydiving, but I wouldn’t say it was dangerous.’
After his north-to-south crossing, the birdman from Trinity has set his sights on a west-to-east route, but acknowledged it would be even more challenging.
‘I’d like to go across from Le Braye and land on Gorey Beach, but I’d need to increase my strength and stamina,’ he said.
‘It was like holding the “plank” position in the air for three minutes while airborne. There’s huge pressure on your arms and you need your arms or you can’t open the parachute.’