In a world first event, two Austrian Red Bull skydivers have completed the ultimate wingsuit flight, jumping from a helicopter at 3,000ft over London, before gliding through the famous landmark Tower Bridge and landing on pontoons.

Working with our controllers in Terminal Control, we published a Temporary Operating Instruction which gave Marco Furst and Marco Waltenspiel the opportunity to jump out of an AS55 Twin Squirrel helicopter over the River Thames last weekend.

We helped arrange the event for the early hours of a Sunday morning as it would minimise any traffic disruption. The level they needed to jump from would put them into Class A airspace, which has strict separation criteria and would normally prevent the event taking place. However, London City is closed on Sunday mornings and Heathrow traffic, both arrivals and departures, aren’t at their usual levels prior to 0530am, so there was a short window of opportunity to complete this event. We also made sure contingency plans were in place with other dates if the weather was unsuitable.

However, back up plans weren’t needed, and the event was a success on Sunday 12 May. Our controllers were able to give them clearance into controlled airspace, allowing the pair to jump from the helicopter at 3,000ft, diving down to 115ft above the water, soaring through Tower Bridge and completing a complex manoeuvre, known as a ‘flare,’ to rise up again to 262 ft, the height required to open their parachutes before landing safely on pontoons.

From take-off to landing, the wingsuit flight lasted 45 seconds, covering a distance of 3,900 ft, reaching a top speed of 153 miles per hour.

This is a good example of us working well with external stakeholders and in this case, the Red Bull team and GB Helicopters who flew on the day from Elstree Aerodrome. Tower Bridge also sits within a Restricted Area with helicopter routes passing over it along the Thames, so we also liaised with the Metropolitan and City of London Police, the Port of London Authority as well as the CAA to co-ordinate the event.

It’s been great to play a part in this challenge which has been in preparation since April 2022 and involved Red Bull constructing a training ground in Oxfordshire, which featured two cranes to mimic the dimensions of Tower Bridge. The skydivers did over 200 jumps, so they could prove to everyone they could carry out the event safely.

Wingsuit flying is known to have revolutionised skydiving, with the purpose to convert vertical falling into a horizontal flight, then landing safely on the ground using a parachute.

Red Bull skydiver Marco Fürst said: “I just feel amazing. The jump was beautiful, and everything worked out really good. In the last two and a half years we planned everything through and had the best preparation and training. I really enjoyed the journey and I’m really grateful to work with Marco and such a good team to bring our dream to life.”

Red Bull skydiver Marco Waltenspiel added: “You can’t rebuild this unique bridge. We did around 200 training jumps just for this day, just for this minute. The difference between training and today is, of course, huge. It’s not a common jump, it’s unique. It was quite intense and I’m super happy now.”

Our Non-Standard Flight teams at Swanwick and Prestwick handle anything that happens inside controlled airspace that’s not ‘normal’ traffic, such as aircraft routing along an airway or recognised route. From small to large aerial surveys, entry to the London Restricted Areas, airshows, flypasts and other events, this is just one of hundreds handled by the team this year. Keep your eye out for the upcoming annual Kings Birthday Flypast at the end of Trooping the Colour and also some D-Day 80 celebrations around the country in June.


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