Tianmen Mountain, China

The only time I had been to China was in Tibet where I had gone for climbing. So when my buddy Jeb invited me to join him for a special event in the mountains of Tianmen I was very excited. Jeb had a project to try and fly through a hole in the side of the famous mountain range and I was very interested to support my friend in his endeavor. We flew to Bejing and began our journey. There was to be a live two-hour show about what we were doing. Jeb had been to China many times to take a look at the challenge and promote the event. The mountain of Tianmen are incredible. I have had the opportunity to visit and climb in the greatest mountain ranges in the world and this was one of the most spectacular and unique places I have ever been. Jeb and I were joined by eight friends who are some of the best wing-suit pilots in the world. The group of pilots would jump from the cable car and a special platform at the top part of the mountain. Then Jeb would be the main event by attempting to fly through the cave.  We were going to have one day of practice before the main show so we were all eager to see what the flight would be like. I was to jump with my good buddies Douggs from Australia and Jeff from USA. I jumped first with those guys to follow me. It was raining and windy and cold on top of the platform. I did not like the conditions but there was a live Chinese news program filming us practice so we felt the pressure to go. We were given a ten second countdown then we jumped. I immediately felt my exit was off but managed to get going and fly away. Jeff and Dougg’s were right behind me. As we flew I could see a large bird flying towards me and in a split second before the bird hit me it changed direction. In Jeff’s video you can see me barely miss the bird, which would have killed me for sure if we had collided. Then we were to fly underneath the cable car, which was not easy to see in the rain and fog we were flying through. I flew underneath the cable car at its lowest point to the mountain. When I opened my parachute I had a small twist in the lines but managed to get out of it then I realized I was flying straight into the mountainside. I had no time to change direction and flew right into the side of the mountain. I impacted into soft trees and was suspended over a 100 foot cliff. The brush and trees were full of thorns so I had a lot of trouble to free myself. After more than five hours Jeff and I cut my parachute out of the trees and a fifty man rescue team got us off the mountain. The crazy thing is that is was captured on live CCTV.

I felt lucky to have escaped injury and even managed to save my parachute. Now I was ready for the big event. Jeb was stoked to be going for the cave flight and the rest of the team was enjoying the amenities of China and having great warm up flights. The day of the live show came and the weather was good. The team activated and made some amazing flights around the cable cars and mountains, landing on a small bridge below. The time finally came for jeb to make his flights through the cave. We all ran to the top of the cave where we could have the best seat to watch Jeb fly through. As we ran up the steps I saw Jeb walking down. He was angry and yelling that someone had his wing-suit. Then I realized he had already jumped. Jeb had a bad exit from the helicopter and had to abort his flight by pulling his chute early and landing on the other side of the cave. After he was rescued he wanted to make another jump and try again. Jeb found his suit then drove down to the waiting helicopter and boarded again. We waited at the cave to see what would happen. All of this was playing out on live TV and Jeb only had a few minutes before the show was over and he would not be allowed to jump again. Finally I heard the helicopter. I saw a tiny dot fall out of the chopper. Jeb slowly zig zagged back and forth to bleed off altitude then he went for it. There were hundreds of Chinese fans waiting at the cave too and the shouting and screams were intense as jeb flew through the cave. HE MADE IT!!! It was an amazing flight to watch so close. I was super stoked for Jeb and the rest of our team. The project was a massive success and even though Jeb and I both crashed, we walked away and will return to China later this year for another awesome event.


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