Thousands of feet above the ground, the air rushing in through the plane’s open door is bitterly cold. The wind blasts around the small cabin, making Richard Schneider’s wingsuit rustle wildly. Yet Schneider doesn’t cower in fright at what will soon happen. Not a bit of it – even if a nervous excitement fills him as he edges toward the door of the airplane.
Once at the exit, Schneider takes in the dizzying view: the wispy clouds around him, the swirling land formations and sprawling cityscape below, and nothing but air in between. He steps out of the plane’s door and, spreading his arms and legs wide – a bird on manmade wings – begins his flight over arguably the most opulent and extravagant city in the world.
That city is Dubai – a place full of ambitious architecture like the towering Burj Khalifa and the impressive Palm Jebel Ali and Palm Jumeirah developments. The two palm tree-shaped artificial archipelagoes, in particular, are quite spectacular when viewed from above, even though the Palm Jebel Ali remains incomplete. For some, however, flying over such sights in a passenger jet – or any aircraft – just isn’t enough.
Wingsuit flyer Richard Schneider traveled to the emirate in 2012 with one thrilling objective in mind: to launch himself from an aircraft thousands of feet above Dubai’s coast and in the direction of the Palm Jebel Ali while wearing gear that effectively turned him into a giant flying squirrel.
The daredevil laid the groundwork for his 2012 trip – from which most of the photos in this article are taken – half a year before heading for the Arabian skies. This meant securing permission to land at a designated drop zone and getting in as much training as possible – including rehearsing landing procedures in the desert. Then on the day of the actual jump Schneider and his companion Oscar Lozada took off prior to sunset, armed not only with their wingsuits, but also trusty GoPro Hero 2 and Contour HD action cameras.