how not to fly a wing suit

Screengrab via Eric Dossantos

See that small shadow in the bottom right-hand corner? That's him.

Eric Dossantos woke up in a French hospital with no memory of how he got there. Then he watched the GoPro video of his terrifying wingsuit crash, and all the painful details came flooding back. 

Dossantos, 30, went wingsuit base jumping in Chamonix, France, on Sept. 29. It’s a flight he’d completed at least 10 times in the past, but this time, a slight miscalculation nearly cost him his life. He crashed into a tree going approximately 90 miles per hour, suffering head trauma, liver laceration, and fractures in three ribs, his left scapula, and clavicle. 

“I thought I had died,” Dossantos, who is active duty military, told Top Gun Base

“I had no idea what I was doing there or where I was. I couldn’t remember anything after the first jump of the day, except for a faint memory that I had been jumping. Utter confusion. Turns out I had been laying in the forest for over 3 hours until some trail workers heard me calling for help. I had moderate brain trauma. I couldn’t think or talk straight. I hurt everywhere. I couldn’t speak French. I didn’t have my phone. I was alone and in a state of utter confusion.”

What makes the video so difficult to watch is that’s it clear Dossantos doesn’t know the danger he’s in until way it’s too late. “It wasn’t until about the last 5 seconds that I felt the trees below me getting closer than I expected or wanted,” he said. “Everything before that felt flyable to me.” He added: 

“There were things I was not aware of in my last few seconds of flight, and some things I was aware of. But in this crash situation, I did not flinch, brace for impact, or change to a body position that might worsen my situation. My skill level and knowledge pool was not high enough to keep me from stalling into the trees, but I knew the best chance of surviving my impact into the trees was to keep a flying position at all costs.”

His friends have created a GoFundMe account to help cover his medical expenses, which could include hyperbaric oxygen therapy. Dissents wrote on Vimeo that he’s not sure how he feels about the campaign—which gives some insight into his character and pride—but he’s doing everything he can to make sure others learn from his near-death experience. 

“There are so many things to take away from this. If you see something dangerous, man up, grow a thick skin, and say what’s on your mind, right then and there,” he wrote. 

“To those starting from square one, who are looking to be the next Graham Dickinson, I would say this: Cut No Corners. At the end of the day, how well you fly your wingsuit is what keeps you alive.”

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