Wingsuit Equipment Guide

October 26, 2017

This introduction to gear considerations for wingsuit skydiving is useful as a handout to complement an instructor's detailed classroom module in First Flight Training, as well as for more advanced wingsuit flyers who want an outline to check their knowledge. 

Wingsuit design has changed dramatically in the past decade, and the best wingsuit instructors recognize that equipment choices and training techniques must evolve to keep pace. If you have questions, any Lightning Flight coach will be happy to elaborate on the points below.

1. RIG

A. AAD

• Automatic Activation Devices are an important safety tool for wingsuit skydiving

• There is no downside to having one when wingsuit skydiving

• There have been cases where an AAD did not fire during a wingsuit skydiver’s instability, possibly due to slow descent rate or varying pressure areas. However, there have been several documented saves

• Wingsuits have high forward speeds and mid-air collisions are a risk

• Contact with an airplane on exit is also a risk

• When wingsuit skydiving, jump an AAD

B. RSL

• Wingsuiting does not significantly alter decision making about whether to have an RSL

• An RSL is generally recommended for newer skydivers

C. RESERVE

• Know your reserve in case you have to fly it

• The reserve should be loaded no higher than the main canopy

• A wing loading close to 1:1 provides more margin for a safe landing in case of injury or unconsciousness

D. MAIN CANOPY

• Docile (non-elliptical)

• 7-cell is best for wingsuiting

• Wing loading generally recommended at no more than 1.3:1

• Lines in trim

E. DEPLOYMENT BAG

• Semi-stowless bags encourage smooth deployments

• Rubber bands create resistance during deployment that can add to unwanted movement and asymmetry leading to line twists

• If using a standard bag, leave 18 inches of line unstowed and carefully S-folded at bottom of main pack tray. This allows the bag to move out of the burble before hitting first resistance

F. BRIDLE

• An 8-9 ft. bridle sends the pilot chute further from the burble

• Bridles shorter than 7 ft. cause high risk of the pilot chute being caught in the burble and causing a PC in tow

G. PILOT CHUTE

• Minimum PC size for wingsuiting is 28 inches in diameter (if Squirrel SkySnatch, 26 inches)

• Pilot chute condition and design, not just size, is important to wingsuit deployments

• PC should be constructed with ZP material and in excellent condition (not worn out)

• The weight and shape of the handle can contribute to PC instability

• A lightweight, i.e. carbon fiber handle is preferred

• The Squirrel SkySnatch (open-source) design is superior for its toroidal shape and venting

H. OPEN CORNERS MODIFICATION

• Any master rigger can modify a container to “open the corners” at the bottom of the main pack tray (sometimes known as a "wingsuit mod")

• The bottom flap of the main tray opens completely (lying flat when open on the floor) reducing the likelihood of the deployment bag snagging on a corner

2. WINGSUIT

A. Definition (International Parachuting Commission)

• For competition purposes, the IPC defines a wingsuit in Section 2 of the Sporting Code as:

• A piece of skydiving equipment that spans flexible material between a skydiver’s arms and torso and between their legs

• Using only gravity, the suit provides the possibility for sustained forward movement through the air (this excludes jets or other forms of propulsion)

• The skydiver’s body forms the majority frame for the wings of the suit (this excludes large external rigid wings)

B. How a Wingsuit Works

• Increased surface area

• Inlets

• Pressurization

• Similarities to ram-air parachute design

C. Terminology

• Wing configuration/ Body position

• Anhedral vs. Dihedral

• Speed

• Angle of Attack

• Etc.

D. Identifying Beginner, Intermediate and Advanced Suits

• Size of suit

• Attachment and length of arm wing to body; gripper length

• Length of tail wing

• Type of inlet

• Amount of suit pressurization

• Ease of reaching risers on deployment

• Safe beginner suit choices and safe progression (similar to canopy downsizing)

E. Attaching Wingsuit to Rig

• Use a system that is clear and repeatable to build good habits

• To check correct hookup, first close zippers for visual clarity

• FIRST: handles are accessible and secured

• SECOND: chest strap is out and available to be routed over the suit

• THIRD: leg straps correctly placed inside the suit

• FOURTH: wings are not twisted or obstructed

3. ACCESSORIES

A. Helmet

B. Audible altimeter

• Required for wingsuit skydiving

• Slower fall rate can cause loss of altitude awareness

• Set altitudes for first WS jump (6500 ft., 5500 ft., 2500+ ft.)

• Activate or choose “Slow Fall Mode” if available

• Discuss and adjust decision altitude if necessary. Wingsuit adds extra time to reserve procedures, risk of line twists on reserve, etc.

C. Visual altimeter

• Hand mount and/or chest strap or mud flap mount required

• Wrist-mount altimeters are covered by the wingsuit during flight

D. FlySight

• Overview: a GPS tool for measuring and viewing flight statistics and movement

• Not necessary for introductory wingsuiting but useful to know about


Categories: First Flight Training, Equipment, For Coaches