One recent trip to America I caught up with Jhonathan at the popular Sky diving venue Lodi, to ask him about his World Records and the World Wingsuit League.
You currently hold three world records and you have just returned from China where you came 4th in the WWL. For someone that was bought up in Colombia, how did it all start?
That’s a really good question, it was hard. I was just a guy in Colombia watching videos of all these athletes doing amazing things, and my goal was to meet them. I started sky diving when I was 20, then all of a sudden I’m in China actually competing against them. It was a real honor to be part of the event and I felt like I was winning just by being there.
China has so many viewers that in the final it’s possible that there were more people watching you guys than the Super Bowl. What was that like?
I knew there were thousand of people watching but the thing about China is that it’s isolated from the Western World so none of the videos that we see on Youtube are available there. You are aware that all eyes are on us being part of the most impressive sporting event of the year in China but when you’re jumping off a cliff and you are competing you don’t really think about this.
In those final seconds before you jump, what were you thinking about?
Fly Fast! This new concept of sky racing is all about strategy. Building momentum, utilising speed and having a good transition out of corners. During the practice jumps each one of us started developing their own strategy. Some guys got it right away, they understood how to cut the corner and where they needed to be on the line in order to get the fastest time. For me it took longer to figure this out.
Can you talk us through the jump?
When you jump you don’t start flying right away, instead you dive. As you come out of the dive you utilise the forward speed and cut the corner to fly as close to the platform as I could, and then getting as close to the tree line on the left above a ridge. Then I could look down and not at the cables, maintaining a better body position for faster flight. It was awesome to figure that out because it was an entirely new concept.
And then I went up ! Now we know that we can go up in a Wingsuit. We were finally able to see it happening. You speed up as you pull into a gully where you can’t turn and then pass below a fixed cable, and, so when some of the guys were coming up the cable car you could actually see the pilots gaining height after the dive ! The mythical question of Wingsuiting was answered – You can go up, 100 %
How do you think that competitions like this will effect Wingsuit flying in the future?
I think its going to be amazing for Wingsuit flying and for the sport as a whole. It’s the first time that Wingsuit base jumping is considered a legitimate sport. If we can demonstrate that people enjoy watching this then the sport can grow. Like Indie car, not everyone can go and buy a million dollar car but they can enjoy watching it, buying the merchandise and supporting the drivers. We can do the same in Wingsuit BASE jumping and I think it’s a really positive thing.
The other benefits about China are that there are large numbers of viewers and less media control. If we start doing an event that takes sponsors from the super bowl then it would get shut down.
When you were in China you watched Felix Baumgartner do his jump and break one of your records, how did you feel about that?
Like a kick in the bollocks, just kidding Records are meant to be broken, that’s the bottom line. It’s amazing when you see someone doing something better because it elevates the sport as a whole. People tend to forget that we are not doing this just for ourselves! I mean if you think you are doing this for your personal level and you are categoric about it, you’re just a ‘Douchbag’. Evolving the sport and taking it to the next level. If someone is able to carry that then thumbs up for that person, I would like to see someone do a ten minute Wingsuit flight. I’d be like ‘Ten minutes dude, you killed it’. I think 10 minutes is achievable with the right tools.
Have you got any exciting plans for the future.
I have one secret plan which is HUGE, I just need to get the finance to make it happen.
How much are you looking for ?
Not much about $40,000
There must be someone out there that would like to support you on your mission. Anyone ?!
Jhonathan’s records are :
Longest time in Freefall – 9mins 6secs
Highest Wingsuit jump 37,265ft
Longest horizontal distance travelled in a Wingsuit 16.3 miles
(for the record Felix flew further than this when he crossed the English Channel but he was using a fixed wing to help him, you can count a Hang-glider as a fixed wing)
Total distance travelled in Freefall 17.5miles (Felix just broke this with his jump)