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Mates chasing sky-high wingsuit pilot dream in US

CRUISING ALTITUDE: Wingsuit pilot Chris Byrnes enjoys a sunset glide over Toogoolawah.
CRUISING ALTITUDE: Wingsuit pilot Chris Byrnes enjoys a sunset glide over Toogoolawah. Ki Bullock Steve Fitch

MOUNTAIN Creek housemates Chris Byrnes and Royce Wilson are quitting their jobs and moving to America to become professional wingsuit pilots.

Suiting up in nylon and effectively transforming their bodies into aircraft wings before jumping out of planes has become a passion for the two 27-year-olds.

They last weekend won the acrobatic wingsuit competition at the Queensland State Skydiving Championships.

It cemented their decision to chase their dreams of earning a living from the sport.

Mr Byrnes, a call centre employee and Mr Wilson, a diesel fitter, have been good mates for about a year.

They both started skydiving about two years ago to reach a level of competence to become wingsuit pilots.

"I saw videos of flying wingsuits and I just instantly thought 'that's unbelievable'."

He had to complete 200 skydives to get his wingsuit licence and another 400 dives in achieving his wingsuit coaching licence.

While last weekend's win was their Leading Edge team's first competition entry, Mr Byrnes has previously competed at the World Cup of Wingsuit Performance Flying in England and at a national level.

He holds an Australian record for gliding more than 4km horizontally during a fall of one kilometre.

The men plan to base themselves at a drop zone near Houston in Texas from January next year.

They hope to take advantage of cheaper jump costs to hone their skills for various international competitions.

Mr Byrnes said his parents were initially concerned about the danger aspect of his flying but he was confident a methodical approach minimised the risks.

He and Mr Wilson evaluate each others dives to make suggestions on safety and technique.

"Once you weigh it up the most dangerous thing we do each weekend is drive to the drop zone and back."

Topics:  adventure america editors picks skydiving


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