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Wingsuit Pilot Crashes Into Africa's Table Mountain

Corliss, in black, just after leaping from a cliff on Table Mountain.
Corliss, in black, just after leaping from a cliff on Table Mountain. (Image credit: YouTube/decanted)

Professional BASE jumper Jeb Corliss is being treated for two broken legs and an injured neck after he crashed into South Africa's Table Mountain yesterday (Jan. 16).

Corliss, a 35-year-old American, was in Table Mountain National Park for a wingsuit gliding stunt. He jumped from a 197-foot-high (60 meters) cliff, but he clipped the side of the mountain on his way down. Corliss released his emergency chute but crashed onto a hiking trail near the base. He was airlifted to a Cape Town hospital, according to news reports.

BASE jumpers leap off structures including buildings, antennas, bridge spans and cliffs, and glide down using parachutes. Corliss has leaped from the Eiffel Tower and been banned from New York's Empire State Building. Officials with Table Mountain National Park said this latest stunt was done without the park's permission.

"The danger associated with BASE jumping does not allow us to issue permits. He did not have permission. We will definitely fine him and possibly press charges," park spokeswoman Merle Collins told South Africa's Cape Times.

Table Mountain is a picturesque mountain that overlooks Cape Town. The mountain's flat top is a big tourist attraction for adventurous hikers. The plateau is about 2 miles (3 kilometers) across and flanked by Devil's Peak on the east and Lion's Head on the west. Table Mountain's highest point is 3,563 feet (1,086 m) above sea level. Corliss crashed into a part of the mountain called Africa Face.

The crash was posted on a YouTube video and appears to show Corliss clipping a rock just after passing another wingsuit pilot. The impact occurs 18 seconds in the video (which contains mature language).

Veteran wingsuit pilot, Miles Daisher told Outside magazine: "It looked to me like his foot or legs hit the rocks" of the intermediate ledge Corliss was trying to clear. "He skipped off the ledge and was thrown into a series of violent flips. And he just pulled [his chute] immediately."

You can follow OurAmazingPlanet staff writer Brett Israel on Twitter: @btisrael. Follow OurAmazingPlanet for the latest in Earth science and exploration news on Twitter @OAPlanet and on Facebook.

Brett Israel was a staff writer for Live Science with a focus on environmental issues. He holds a bachelor’s degree in biochemistry and molecular biology from The University of Georgia, a master’s degree in journalism from New York University, and has studied doctorate-level biochemistry at Emory University.