When I started project BIRDMAN® over 20 years ago odds of becoming a successfull wingsuit pilot were at least 20 times rarer than becoming a / an cosmonaut / astronaut.
/(By May 27 1999 there had been 389 people in space while the number of birdmen was less than 20. I am being a bit generous here since at the time I knew less than a handful of pilots who had survived but it gives you an idea)./
The rarity of the profession (or what later became sport) was due to its extreme nature, odds of survival were about the same as in Russian Roulette and there were no standardised and proven technology nor methods of handling that technology. Due to perceived dangers , dark reputation and statistics wingsuit flying was banned most everywhere and even illegal in some countries (as it was in Finland, where I started my project).
Until BIRDMAN ®
Goals and Vision for project BIRDMAN® back in 1999 :
1) To make wingsuit flying accepted sub-category within regulated skydiving by making it as safe or safer as regular jumping.
2) To gain so much popularity that we can organise FIA recognised championships and competitions to ensure the sport grows & keeps going forward.
3) To make wingsuit flying and the BIRDMAN® brand known worldwide among non-skydivers.
I am not going to details in this text how it was done since the saga deserves a Best Seller but I’d like to take a moment to reflect and appreciate where we are now, 20 years later.
-Wingsuit pilots are allowed to practise their art now everywhere.
-Wingsuit flying has become official FÉDÉRATION AÉRONAUTIQUE INTERNATIONALE sport with regular schedule for championships.
-After 20 years of main stream and private publicity in all forms of media from print to movies, its tough to find a person now who does not know what wingsuit is.
-There are arguably now 20 times more birdmen than cosmonauts / astronauts.
-I do not know how well known BIRDMAN ® is as a brand, but I think the potential has been planted.
For me the journey has been the best school one can attend to and I’d like to make a very special mention to all BMI’s and BMCI’s (BirdMan Instructor, BirdMan Chief Instructor) out there, almost 200 of you, who were trailblazing with me and made this breakthrough possible for the next generations of SkyFlyers(™).
Jari BMCI # 1