Of course he's from Venice, Los Angeles, California.

Smithsonian has the story of Jeb Corliss: The dream has recurred since childhood: I jump, and I can fly.

Corliss hopes the wing suit he designed (photo), will enable him to jump from a building, cliff or the like. But without a parachute. And where better to land than the Las Vegas Strip. People are strange. Can it be done?

High-tech wing suits have taken off since the 1990s, with fliers “going a bit more than three miles forward for each mile in lost altitude, abetted by high-tech fabrics and 'wings' that channel in-rushing air to create lift.”

Corliss wants to go a step further, not using a parachute and approximating something like human flight. But it won't be easy.

He needs about $3 million to erect, in the middle of the Las Vegas strip, a ramp hundreds of feet tall. It would look like a ski jump, but act as a landing slope. Since Corliss would bellyflop on it head forward, arms back, he's found it difficult to persuade people with deep pockets to finance what, after all, could become a televised suicide.

C'mon rich people: Watching him die would be just as exciting as watching him fly.

This all raises an interesting question: Why can't we fly?

The answer: Humans are dense objects, with long, heavy legs and short, heavy arms–and no wings.

The first of the new wing suits was created in the 90s by French skydiver Patrick de Gayardon. Here's a surprise: He later died in a fall.

The picture makes it seem like some tranquil dream, but here's the reality, according to Smithsonian: He's got lift, for sure, but he'll be traveling at more than 100 mph, dropping a foot for every three feet forward.


And the killer close:

“I go to a building before a jump and my very first job is to figure out the risks, and it's the only thing I think about. It's about solving problems and combining skill and technology to do something that's never been done before. The key to happiness is having dreams and fulfilling them, even if my dreams are your nightmares.” He brings up Otto Lilienthal, the 19th century German aviation pioneer who killed himself trying to fly one of his contraptions. As he lay dying, he said, “Small sacrifices have to be made.” Says Corliss, “I think that's beautiful.”

H/t LA Observed.

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