Into the void: the fast life and shocking death of a wingsuit-flying hotshot

Alexander Polli was an adrenaline junkie, a daredevil who could pilot through faults in rockfaces at 150 mph. Our columnist tells the astonishing legend of Base, a new film starring Polli that had to be delayed when he was killed by the play he loved

One week after his wingsuit-flying spouse croaked, Carlos Briceno Schutte launched himself into the void holding an inflatable animal. The lower from the Aiguille du Midi, the 3,842 m heyday that towers over the French alpine city of Chamonix, had is an element of Alexander Polli’s favourites. It was only right, says Schutte, to run it in recollection- accompanied by his friend’s flavor swine.” He was sometimes a little bit fat , not doing much rehearsal ,” says Schutte.” I was like,’ You’re not an eagle, bro. You’re a pig .'”

Polli, who was just 31 when he died last year, was the Jimi Hendrix of wingsuit-flying, the supremely dangerous sport whose upper-class are revered like boulder starrings, thanks to the eye-watering accomplishments they play. Polli, like Schutte, had learnt himself by trial and error to use the nylon-webbed suits that allow base-jumpers to ascend to the next fearful level. Propelling themselves from heydays and helicopters, they cut horizontally through the breath at quickens that they are able transcend 200 mph, “proximity-flying” exactly inches from rockfaces and builds. Here i am little chamber for correct on such high-octane flights- and none whatsoever on the 2013 stunt with which Polli established his mention: threading the needle of a 25 ft hole in a rockface in Spain’s Montserrat mountains, an accomplishment abnormally extreme even by wingsuit standards.

Rocketing down from a helicopter towards a jagged escarpment, Polli needed absolute precision and is committed to stumbled his symbol. Any surprising breeze turbulence, distraction or hesitancy would have made slamming face-first into rock-and-roll.

But the potential toll of such daredevilry was fetched home in August last year, at another popular area near Chamonix- the Couloir Ensa, where Polli was keen to try out a new corkscrew operation. Instead, he became one of seven proximity-flying fatalities that time- a casualty proportion that calls into question the sanity of men who feels it was necessary to dress up like a operating squirrel and chuck themselves off a mountain.

For wingsuit-fliers, health risks is worthwhile.” It’s one of the most archetypal human dreamings ,” says Richard Parry, chairman of Base, a brand-new turbocharged film starring Polli and Schutte.” To move unaided, where you are the chick, and every twitching of every muscle keep moving you this direction or that. To direction down valleys and over banks .” Frequently filmed on GoPro cameras fastened to a person in flight, Base propels the viewer to the brink of the wingsuit know-how- quite literally in the case of the opening stage, in which Polli ums and stumble about taking one more step towards a cliff above Rio de Janeiro.

For something that equips such a visual kicking, wingsuit-flying has boasted little in movie- outside of documentaries, only in a handful of incidents in such blockbusters as The Dark Knight Returns. Base be the first time that cinema drama to craft a respectable narration around the athletic, one that excavates into its dark area, its pressurised psychologies. Polli and Schutte play adrenaline junkies whose camaraderie is darkened when Polli’s character descends for his mate’s girlfriend. His conviction at critical moments starts to waver- with drastic consequences.

Parry, a former campaign photographer, started out with a screenplay about a base-jumping serial executioner, but he decided it was too sensationalist, and opted instead to tackle preconceptions about extreme athletics.” People shorthand all the time:’ Oh, they’ve just got a death instinct .’ They used to say that about me in conflict zones. It get vexing. It’s so thin. There’s so much more complexity to wingsuit-flying .”

‘I ‘ I don’t feel any collusion’ … Base director Richard Parry, right, with Alexander Polli.

The director, a 50 -year-old father, doesn’t and won’t participate. But where reference is contacted Polli for revelation, the two bonded over their interest in risk assessment and self-control, subjects they examined while peering over the edge of a limestone cliff on Switzerland’s Hinterrugg mountain, a jump that leads to a nauseatingly close-fisted valley known as the Crack.” I said,’ What do you do with the fright ?’ It was the same as crossing a war. If you fight it, it becomes insurmountable. It rules you. Polli would accept the fear, embracing it and alter it into something positive. Use it as an force .”

Schutte elaborates:” You will ever detect suspicion, for certain, before every start. But you start to get more well informed what you’re doing, whether your gear is set up properly. You take care of the detailed level. When you push off, in that time the panic is go. Now you are focused on doing the best possible jump. The panic proceeds when you have to deploy your parachute- whether it’s a two-second or a one-minute freefall .”

Polli sometimes found that acting, particularly improvising, deprived him down to the bare essentials, in much the same way as base-jumping. He was specially freaked out by the idea of performing in a death situation, only agreeing to do it in a single go. They replaced too well: some sees have mistaken Base for a snuff-brown movie.

An Italian-Norwegian junior skiing and snowboarding endorse, Polli was in the throes of youthful resistance when Schutte firstly fulfilled him:” He didn’t like having any responsibilities. The world-wide he was coming from was very plastic- rich person going to St Tropez .” The Venezuelan, 11 years younger, became a surrogate big brother to the anarchic rich boy, who supported himself partly by playing online poker.” I was always the one taking care of material:’ OK, we cannot leave this mess .’ It was like taking a master’s in patience .”

The payoff was Polli’s generosity, lust for life and raw expertise.” When you’re at the edge of the cliff, everybody is at the same stage ,” says Schutte.” Whether you’re the richest guy or the poorest. That astonished him .” Months before his death, he briefly stopped winging and started experimenting with ayahuasca, the Amazonian hallucinogenic vine, on excursions to Peru.” Ayahuasca changed his life for good ,” says Schutte.” He was becoming more is cognizant of other beings. Before, he’d be farting in the cable car , not caring about anybody else .”

Alexander Spouse in flight … Alexander Polli, left, and Carlos Briceno Schutte in Norway.

At 7.30 am working on 22 August last year, Schutte discovered Polli up doing yoga. He was keen to hover the Couloir Ensa, a steep 400 m gully near Chamonix where there are frequent avalanches. Schutte, who hadn’t flown much that season, didn’t understand the line his acquaintance recommended and said that he “d rather” steer clear of any rock-and-roll formations. Polli agreed to that different roadway and- extraordinarily for him- said he would follow behind. His signoff was different, more.” Usually, he would say,’ I love you, bro’ or something like that. This time it was,’ Ciao, bro .'”

When Schutte didn’t see his partner’s parachute open, he feared the most difficult and called a recovery helicopter before he’d even stroked down. They contacted Polli- who had disintegrated into a tree- in just eight instants, but it was too late to save his life.

Parry remembers going the summon.” It didn’t detect completely out of the blue ,” he says. He retarded the publication of the movie, only is progress with Polli’s family’s agree. His mom accepted his lifestyle- but tellingly she had bought him his first parachute , not his first wingsuit. Neither parent had been aware of the film.” They never realised their son was just a stone virtuoso ,” Schutte says.” For them, he was a crazy spoiled child. When they appreciated the love everybody had for him, they experienced they should have expended more occasion with him- to understand what he was trying to do .”

As well as serving as a monumental to Alexander Polli, Base also inadvertently records the voyeuristic and narcissistic motives that seem to govern life in persons under the age of YouTube and social media. Polli’s character is incessantly filming himself, or revising his transcriptions. This recommend to self-publicise is a far more pressing topic in the world of wingsuit-flying: some people believe the prevalence of cameras has pushed risk-taking to even more extreme sections, fuelling the recent rise in fatalities. But Parry’s conscience is clear.” I don’t feel any complicity ,” he says.” Alex would have done it no matter what. None pushed him to the edge .”

Base is in cinemas on 27 October, and available on iTunes and on necessitate from 6 November.

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