Gary Con­nery: The Man Who Jumped Out of a He­li­copter

Adventure Sports - - GARY CONNERY - By: Jake Wal­nuts

It was May 23, 2012, and Con­nery was plum­met­ing through the skies just out­side of Hen­ley-on-Thames to­ward a large amount of card­board boxes stacked neatly on the ground be­low. With equal parts skill and brav­ery, the 42-year-old pi­loted his wing­suit to a rel­a­tively smooth land­ing atop the boxes with­out de­ploy­ing a para­chute. He is the first per­son to at­tempt such a stunt and sur­vive. Al­most equally as amaz­ing as his record-break­ing land­ing is the fact that Gary Con­nery wasn’t a name known by many be­fore the jump, even within wing­suit div­ing cir­cles, even though he has com­pleted over 850 sky­dives, 450 BASE jumps, and was in­stru­men­tal in the de­vel­op­ment of the mod­ern-day wing­suit. I found this lack of recog­ni­tion sur­pris­ing, as Con­nery has been a stunt dou­ble in many well-known movies in ad­di­tion to his wing­suit work. They in­clude the Harry Pot­ter films, The Beach, and Die An­other Day. That’s not to men­tion that he was Queen El­iz­a­beth II’s stunt dou­ble for her hi­lar­i­ous as­cent via para­chute dur­ing the Lon­don 2012 Olympics Games Open­ing Cer­e­mony. It was with this in mind that I called him up for a (much too brief ) chat. I’m happy to re­port that he is one heck of a friendly guy. He fended off even the sil­li­est of my ques­tions with cheer, among which was this beauty: “So, how do you ac­tu­ally pre­pare for land­ing with­out a para­chute?” He says it’s all about prac­tice and feel­ing com­fort­able in the air. What’s not so ob­vi­ous is that, in the months be­fore the land­ing, he per­formed sev­eral sim­i­lar jumps (bail­ing out with a para­chute at the very end) while wear­ing a FlySight, an aerial GPS unit used to gauge his speed and rate of de­scent. The data showed that he was able to reg­u­larly slow him­self to speeds of less than 60 miles per hour while fly­ing about two hor­i­zon­tal feet for ev­ery ver­ti­cal foot lost—rates at which he was com­fort­able fly­ing into card­board boxes. Con­nery doesn’t have any pre-flight rit­u­als or su­per­sti­tions, and he didn’t even have trou­ble sleep­ing the night be­fore the big land­ing. Sim­ply put, he comes up with a bril­liant new chal­lenge, puts time and ef­fort into solv­ing it, and then is com­pletely com­fort­able in his at­tempt at it. He has ab­so­lute con­fi­dence in him­self and his abil­i­ties. It will be ex­cit­ing to see what he does next. Gary Con­nery will be at­tempt­ing an­other “chute-less” wing­suit land­ing in Las Vegas, Ne­vada on July 4, 2013.

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