Well-known wingsuit flying daredevil Johnny Strange died Thursday after he crashed while wingsuit BASE jumping in the Swiss Alps.
Johnny Strange, 23, first became famous as a daredevil at the tender age of 17, when he was the youngest person to climb the highest mountains on seven continents in the world, a feat named the “Seven Summits.”
According to a statement from Swiss Police Friday, Strange crashed just seconds after taking off from Mount Gitschen. While police are still investigating the crash, they did say strong winds had been reported for that day.
— TMZ (@TMZ) October 3, 2015
According to the L.A. Times, a few days before the fatal jump, Strange talked about his plans on KROQ-FM’S Kevin & Bean show. Immediately after the interview, the wingsuit flying daredevil jumped off a Swiss mountain and filmed his flight. The interview is included in the video below.
In the video, he can be seen soaring through the sky in his wingsuit above a green mountainside, before finally heading over a rocky peak where he releases his parachute to break his fall and return to the ground.
On his last photo, posted to the popular photo sharing website Instagram, Strange asked, “Which tree should we bring home for Christmas?
Another image on Instagram showed Johnny Strange in the process of wingsuit flying, with the description “Carving down the mountain today in my Jedei 2 wingsuit.” On that post, some of his fans implored him to be careful.
At the age of 17, Johnny Strange achieved the honor of being the youngest person to climb the highest mountains on seven continents in the world, dubbed the “Seven Summits,” and appeared on CNN, CBS News, and the Conan O’Brien show, speaking of his feats.
He was well-known for many daredevil and risky stunts, but wingsuit BASE jumping was one of his favorites. Similar to BASE jumping, wingsuit flying practitioners jump from high spots, including buildings, ledges and mountains, but the difference is the wingsuit itself, which by its very nature allows the BASE jumpers to extend their flight time and range.
The Seattle Times quotes model Gigi Hadid, who attended Malibu High School with Strange, as saying on Twitter that he had an adventurous spirit.
Johnny Strange is not the first wingsuit flying daredevil to lose his life for his sport. Back in May, wingsuit BASE jumpers Dean Potter and Graham Hunt died after jumping off Taft Point in Yosemite National Park. Officials said at the time that their parachutes never deployed.
Potter had blogged about the dangers of wingsuit flying, saying, “Though my body is warm inside the nylon suit, I start to shiver and wonder if what we’re doing is right.” He continued by saying that wingsuit BASE jumping felt safe to him, but noted that 25 wingsuit fliers had lost their lives this year alone.
“There must be some flaw in our system, a lethal secret beyond my comprehension.”
Strange had also acknowledged the dangers of the sport on his social media accounts in the past and was sad to hear of their fate.
He wrote in his blog, “You were one of my favorite BASE jumpers and getting to fly Wingsuits with you off Via F the next year made me beyond proud to know I had gotten to BASE jump with someone who I regarded as a legend. Thanks for your Wingsuit advice, I’m sorry to hear you died flying. See you on the other side.”
Unfortunately, Strange has now quite possibly reached “the other side” to join his fellow wingsuit flying daredevils.
The video below shows a hot air balloon wingsuit jump by Johnny Strange, Robbie Bacastow, and Hugo Jameson, followed by slow motion helicopter exit and wingsuit BASE jump by Strange.
[Photo: Johnny Strange by Jason Merritt / Getty Images Entertainment]