Written by Staff Writer at CNN
Maverick Viñales bailing out. It sounds like something out of a James Bond movie.
But the Bolivian daredevil risked it all — and almost lost his life — on Friday when he crashed a wingsuit while attempting to land at 228 kph. He survived, but had to swim back to the surface after the vehicle detached.
Related content Condoms? No problem? The global travels of an underwear executive
The daredevil, based in Los Angeles, specializes in BASE jumping, or “boulder jumping” — jumping off things like buildings, antennas, spans (like bridges) and earth.
When he went skiing in Southern California recently, he was inspired to try wingsuit flying — a new combination of wingsuit, BASE jumping and air gliding.
“The first time I’d flown a wingsuit I had a lot of issues because of the way I did the backfire of the parachute,” he said. “The power differential was really high because it was flying very high, and then it banked very late too.”
He tried to backfire in ski goggles (in the February edition of CNN iReport) by simply pulling the trigger instead of lowering the parachute. It didn’t work.
Instead, he tried a traditional backfire and did not fare any better.
Maverick Viñales sports a wingsuit skydive.
Related content Stunning views from wing suit skydive over the Empire State Building
“Even though I was going fast and I was landing on the ski ground, the forces were not strong enough and the deployment of the parachute was just too late,” he explained.
When the parachute failed, Viñales drove straight back to his ski resort, if he could get there.
“That’s the point where I thought, there’s no way I’m going to get to the top of this mountain,” he said. “This is insane! I’m going to give up!”
The powers that be would be none the wiser.
He abandoned his ski pad and climbed a 12,000-foot mountain to the ledge, where he pulled a heli skydive with 100,000 feet of altitude above himself — flying just above the trees as he plummeted, 100 kph per hour.
‘This is crazy’
“It was nearly a parachute failure,” he admitted. “There was this big dust storm. The wind was blowing at 200 kph on the mountain and I couldn’t see anything at all.”
He tried every maneuver to stop the descent, “cascading” — a rare maneuver in which the parachute is tethered to the line with the main lines.
Related content The world’s 10 most dangerous hikes
But just past 7,000 feet, his main line broke — and he was about to crash.
“I had to absolutely ditch the wingsuit and swim to the next ridge line to look for some landing gear or something,” he said. “I was so lucky. The weather was bad and everything was under control.”
He parachuted to a landing over the river near the top of the mountain.
“I slid all the way back,” he recalled. “I climbed up the mountain and crawled, and next thing I know someone was looking at me in disbelief saying, ‘Hey, you OK?’ And I said, ‘Yeah!'”
Viñales says he has had more than 200 wingsuit jumps and more than 350 BASE jumps over the years.
He uploaded his video to YouTube, captioning it: “This is crazy. This dude is cool man.”