Paratenting - Jumping the Wigwam
Part of being an adventure athlete is dreaming up new possibilities. Every time I saw a Red Bull Wigwam event tent I was taken by the fact that it is about the right shape & the right size as a round parachute, this led to much dreaming about transforming one into a jumping device!
I happened to have an old Wigwam at my disposal so began ordering parachute related equipment like 100m of parachute line & attaching hardware to enable the process to happen. I spent a day with a local upholsterer to sew repairs into the tent & attach 12 parachute lines to the 6 legs of the tent. We cut a vent in the apex just like a parachute to improve stability of the canopy….just like the real thing.
Packing a tent into a deployment bag is fun, especially as no packing instructions came with the Wigwam…& this thing is bulky & heavy.
With all the gear ready I assembled a great team of mates to turn this dream into reality. I teamed up with tandem paragliding pilot Dominic Eller at the summit of Coronet Peak in Queenstown with my new Paratent & donned the three harnesses I’ll need for the stunt. A climbing harness attaches me to the paraglider through a quick release, then my Paratent harness, then a BASE parachute for safety in case the tent doesn’t open.
We took off on a clear winters day in front of a bewildered crowd, to fly to the nearby Flight Park arriving with 1000 feet of altitude. Time to put theory into practice!
I pulled the release handle & fell away from the paraglider with the heavy tent snaking out of the deployment bag, it seemed to take an age to open, but open it did! What a sight, a beautiful hexagonal Wigwam parachute was flying above me, nice & stable, just like I’d dreamt it would. Yeeharrr, it works. What a thrill. I released the tent at 500 feet, freefell away to open my BASE parachute for the landing.
Fantastic, I love the thrill of turning dreams into reality & trying something new that’s never been done before. Good planning, preparation, imagination & teamwork paved the way to achieving this success. This was a day I’ll remember forever.