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For Freedom and Courage

When I started my company BIRDMAN® International Ltd I chose to fly it with slogan ”For Freedom and Courage”. BIRDMAN® was after all, the first wingsuit producing company ever and my main job was to convince my target market, experienced skydivers, to buy one. Wingsuits had a very, very notorious reputation. According to the statistics, I had to work with, in my pioneering days, were that only 6 birdmen had survived out of 78, which gave me about negative 92% chance of survival. Luckily my own math was better and I gave myself luxurious 50-50.

To me, the birdman suit, batsuit or a wingsuit (favourite child has many names they say) as an inflating personal piece of aero-tech, brought unimaginable freedom of flight. Not only I was able to double or triple my freefall time, I was now able to travel vast distances. It gave me a chance to recover from bad spots and choose far away starting positions whether they were fast flying airplanes or fixed exist positions. Wingsuit brought a brand new dimension to the game and all the possibilities (and responsibilities) with it!

I foresaw quite accurately all the possibilities wingsuit offered but what I was about to learn the hard way was all the fear, demur, hate and jealousy it induced. No matter how big the sky was, some thought they owned it all and they just didn’t want to share it. It took courage from us not only to fly an experimental technology in most hostile and unforgiving environment but also to claim our right to occupy our part of the infinite sky.

One of my favourite philosophers, Friedrich Nietzche once wrote that the True Man wants two things; Danger and Play. I think he was talking about marriage and women but I think that his thought also fits in the subject of conquering one's fears in order to gain freedom. You see, the only prison is your fear and the only freedom is freedom from fear. Since my very childhood days I always thought that the best way to face your fears was to follow them and make a play with danger. In fact, I now believe it's a method of initiation to true manhood. It teaches one to become free from the hive, the ultimate truth about who you are and gives you possibility to grow beyond imagination.

To live dangerously forward, when done right, will show you the most terrible depths of fear, but it is from there where you’ll find what you have lost.

So there you have it, the story of my slogan since 1999.

Odensala, January 16th 2021. - © Jari Kuosma

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