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.

Monday, June 12, 2006

Young Bird Delays Blog

Wingsuiters, groud-bound readers, flight-minded folk, and stray stumblers,

Please forgive the delay. I have been busy bringing my own new egg into the world (will resist the temptation to put photos here). Meanwhile, the history of personal flight marches on. Please check out the supposed first military batwings (I hasten to point out, if only parenthetically, that Manus Morgan taught the National Guard how to use batwings in California back in the forties). More on this when I catch my breath.

You may possibly enjoy the following site, a recreation of one of the early tower jumpers, though in this case it's a bridge. Exactly what scene they've recreated I don't know but the wings resemble depictions of those worn by Charles Allard in 1712.