Monday, June 19, 2006

When There's no Seat Cushion Flotation Device

These pictures, of Manus "Mickey" Morgan are fairly precious, if you have any interest in the history of the wingsuit. Sadly, they just wouldn't fit in the book, so I offer them to you here. The first two come from the now defunct "PIC" magazine, the last from an unknown source. Morgan was one of the first few bat-wing jumpers and for a while he held the wingsuit altitude record with a jump he made at 17,500 feet—in 1937. The hydrophobic birdman's chief innovation was to include an inflatable bladder with his gear, so he could better survive a water landing. Today's skyflyers must be stronger swimmers as they have yet to include this development.

I hope I won't disillusion you by noting that the second shot was surely taken with the plane firmly on terra firma. I bring this up because I have witnessed with my very own eyes the very same photographic technique being used today. The average news photographer is not a skydiver himself and prefers reclining at plane-side to falling backward through space with only an instant to get the shot.

On another note, I'll be reading from Birdmen, Batmen, and Skyflyers tomorrow (June 20th) at the Community Bookstore in Park Slope, Brooklyn. I can guarantee some wild tales of men with wings.


tohl said...

Thank you for interesting reading from Estonian birdman.

Michael Abrams said...

Thanks for the kind words! Would love to read your blog but even Google can't translate it. Someday when you're bored maybe you could provide us with an excerpt or two?

Anonymous said...

Your book is great. I have read it twice already and lent it to a friend. Thanks for explainingthe history of WS.

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Kevin Finley said...

I have a signed picture of Mickey Morgan in his flying suit standing on an airplane wing. I can email you a picture if you would like to see it. A really neat photo.