23-year-old Daredevil Breaks Wingsuit Record, Flies Through Solid Target at Over 150 MPH
SWITZERLAND — He’s a Swedish superman — minus the kryptonite — who has become the youngest wingsuit pilot to fly through a solid target at 155 mph.
“I had a dream that kept coming back time after time when I was young about running up a steep hill, and then I just take off flying,” Anton “Squeezer” Andersson tells CNN Sport over the phone from his training camp in California.
Dreaming about flying might be common, but besides getting on a plane, few people decide to act on it.
Just three years ago, Andersson was a 20-year-old taking extra mathematics classes to get onto an engineering course at college in Gothenburg.
Then he made a tandem sky dive — the standard first step into the world of parachuting in which the novice makes a jump while strapped to an instructor.
“I really had no idea what sky diving or any of this sport was all about,” Andersson recalls. “But when I did my first jump everything became really clear for me, that it was just this that I wanted to do, a lot, and I wanted to try and do it for a living and try to do it every day because I’d never experienced anything like it.”
A year after his first jump, Andersson tried wingsuiting for the first time. A form of base jumping, the pilots don aerodynamic suits that allow them to “fly” as they fall, steering with considerable accuracy before using a more conventional parachute to land safely.
A few weeks ago, Andersson — now 23 — achieved that mark of becoming the youngest pilot to fly through a solid target at 155 mph after jumping off the Hintisberg mountain in Switzerland — a peak that rises nearly 10,0000 feet above sea level.
The eye-watering stunt saw him steer through gaps just 50 feet wide and through targets that were just 10 feet off the ground.
‘What are you doing?’
“When you stand on the edge you’re pretty nervous and it’s bubbling in your stomach,” Andersson admits. “All these feelings come and run through your head and you’re questioning yourself, like ‘what are you doing?'”
Once in the air though, those doubts quickly disappear.
“After you’re jumping off and you’re falling you cannot focus on anything but the now. You get into this zone where you cannot think. I mean, you can reflect and take decisions, but it’s not like you can think ‘oh I’m so scared.’
“You don’t have time to react that way. Your brain kicks in with a kind of survival instinct.”
At such extremes, danger is ever-present, and Andersson says his preparation is meticulous.
“We use a lot of GPS data and measuring equipment to make sure what we’re doing is safe,” he explains. “I also communicate a lot with other pilots to find out what they’re doing. Body type and weight and so on, that all plays a part.”
Time stands still
He describes the sensation of flying through a solid object as “mind-blowing.”
“Once you’re flying through it you don’t exactly realize that you even went through, because it’s so, so quick,” he exclaims. “But on the same side, it’s just like time stops when you’re flying.”
Andersson’s passion for the sport comes across in everything he says.
“I love to do it so much,” he says breathlessly. “Even if I go and jump every day I don’t feel like I’m getting tired of six hours hiking up in the mountains, seven days a week.”
“My goal is to become the world’s best pilot. I want to get better at mountaineering so I can do bigger expeditions on bigger mountains.
“We’re looking at combining with different sports, like motocross and skiing, with wingsuiting, trying to push the boundaries.
“Three years ago, I could never imagine my life would be like it is right now. It seems like now, that all these things I’ve learned through wingsuiting and making videos and all these other kinds of stuff, is educating me through life as well.
“It’s funny. It’s been wonderful. I feel I can achieve anything.”