MID-FLIGHT: Steve Rose during his inaugural wing-suit flight over Whitehaven Beach.
MID-FLIGHT: Steve Rose during his inaugural wing-suit flight over Whitehaven Beach. Phill Gordon

Cannonvale man makes history with wing-suit flight

"DO SOMETHING that scares you every day” is the mantra that Cannonvale man Steve Rose has been living by.

In July, he well and truly put that motto to the test, jumping out of a plane at 15,000ft to become the first person to execute a wing-suit flight over Whitehaven Beach, spanning almost eight kilometres.

Wing-suiting is an extreme sport which relies on the use of a specialised jumpsuit or wing-suit, comprised of two arm wings and a leg wing, which works to increase lift and allow the diver to fly a slower descent rate.

The wing-suiter uses their body to control forward speed, direction and lift which can take years of practice to achieve efficient flight and successfully maximise performance.

Mr Rose skydived in 1995 for the first time and in the 23 years that have passed, he's clocked up almost 400 jumps and about 120 wing-suit flights.

This particular flight was done on July 19, the same day that Aussie Bigways, an Australian Large Formation Skydiving team, closed their training exercise for the largest free fall formation national record with a 14,000ft sky dive over Hill Inlet.

Mr Rose, the last person to jump from the plane, was travelling downward at a speed of around 100kph and forwards at approximately 180kph while watching sky divers 8000 feet below him.

"It was a spectacular view,” he said. "Wing-suiting is truly as close to flying as is humanly possible.

"I've done several jumps over Whitehaven Beach, but I've been wanting to do a wing-suit flight since I started wing-suiting four years ago.

"It's just one of the most beautiful places to jump, it was fantastic.”

Sky divers must complete more than 200 sky-dives and be considered proficient in basic sky-diving skills before executing wing-suit flights with an instructor and learning how to maintain control of the suit, which can fly between six to eight kilometres depending on the exit altitude.

Mr Rose said the Whitehaven flight was his longest distance flown yet in that suit and was something he had been building up for since doing the first wing-suit flight over Airlie Beach from Pigeon Island to Port of Airlie four years ago.

"I've been waiting a long time to make that flight,” he said. "With wing-suiting, you can't start until you've done more than 200 jumps so that you're proficient in basic sky-diving skills.

"Then you can participate in training for wing-suiting, do several instructor jumps, and learn how to fly the wing-suit without losing control.”

Mr Rose acknowledged the high risk associated with wing-suiting, but said it didn't deter him.

"There's risk involved in crossing the road. If we didn't take risks, we wouldn't live much,” he said.

"Every time I exit the aircraft, I have fear, but I believe you should do something that scares you every day.”