British stuntman Mark Sutton died while participating in a wing-diving event yesterday. Sutton, 42, was a resident of Surrey, and was staying in Chamonix, France while shooting a film. Rescuers state he died on impact on a rocky outcrop in the Swiss Alps above the Grandes Otannes area. Sutton was a former Army officer.
Sutton is most widely known for his stunt during the 2012 London Olympics. Dressed as James Bond he parachuted into the Olympic Stadium during opening ceremonies. Doubling Daniel Craig, he and another stuntman dressed as the queen dove into the stadium. The Union-Jack parachutes sent people wild!
Sutton, along with 19 other divers, had been on a filming outing planned to last for three days, but ended suddenly on the first. They were being transported and filmed diving out of helicopters for an extreme sport video. Trey Cook, editor-in-chief of Epic TV had invited the best of wing-divers to produce a film. The divers had a casual jump setting, being able to choose their own courses and being filmed as they flew.
Preliminary investigations suggested Sutton had hit a ridge after jumping at a height of 10,826ft in the late morning yesterday. His injuries were so severe that he was identified solely through a DNA test. Reparations to his body are estimated to take a few days. He was traveling at 124mph at impact. As Sutton jumped, another went at the same time. His partner had a camera on, but stated the moment of impact was not on the film.
There is no clear cause for the accident at this point. The weather was in good condition for the sport. In Wind-diving the pilot wants to fly close to the ground or mountainside. As you can imagine, at nearly 130mph room for error is very minute. It had been said by a colleague that he simply could have just been flying too close to the mountain. Investigators have taken thermal winds into consideration, for they could have tampered with Sutton’s trajectory. As tribute to his memory, the group of the world’s best wing divers that had begun filming plans to carry on their jumps.
Wing diving, or Wing-suit flying, was first developed in the 1990’s. The sport uses a parachute-webbed jumpsuit. The material closes up any gap between limbs to catch the wind. This allows the jumper to glide and cut through the air before deploying their parachute. The operator uses their body to control speed, direction, and lift while flying. While wing-suit flying adds a bigger adrenalin reward, it also adds another set of risks. Uncontrollable spinning and getting pulled into an aircrafts tail on exit are a few of the more common. Some people also struggle with opening their parachutes.
Many condolences have been sent out to his survivors and family by means of twitter and other social media networks. Friend and London Olympic stunt partner, Gary Connery writes: “All you jumpers/flyers out there, stay safe, make wise choices and know your limits and your locations. Live to tell your stories. One love.” Our sincerest condolences go out to all of Mr. Suttons family, friends, and colleagues.