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Red Bull wingsuit pilot dies when parachute fails

Hungarian Victor Kovats crashed into side of mountain during practice run for World Wingsuit Championships in Zhangjiajie, China

A professional wingsuit flier in the World Wingsuit Championships died Tuesday when his parachute failed to deploy during a practice run, sending him crashing headfirst into the side of a mountain in a horrible accident shown on Chinese state television.

Footage showing the final flight of Hungarian daredevil Victor Kovats during the Red Bull event in Tianmen Mountain National Forest Park in Zhangjiajie, China, can be seen at the bottom. The CNN Chinese video basically shows the pilot, at a considerable distance, disappearing into the trees.

ITN News has this report, safe for viewing, as it cuts off the video before Kovats reaches the trees:

According to CNN, nearly 200 rescuers were involved in recovering the body of Kovats, whose skull was smashed.

Kovats, 40, was a three-time Hungarian national champion who had made 700 flights and 125 skydives.

From the Red Bull World Wingsuit League China Grand Prix website:

We are deeply saddened by Victor Kovats’ passing and our thoughts and prayers go out to his parents and friends during these difficult times. He will be always be remembered for his deep passion for life and his spirit of adventure, and he will always be sadly missed in the wingsuit community.

 

As a result of this tragedy we will conduct a thorough review of the events that led into this accident and adopt any appropriate changes for the future of the World Wingsuit League.

 

For the last three years we have worked closely on safety issues with the athletes, manufacturers, and other experts. Still, when the world’s best compete at the highest level in any sport, the risks remain.

On Wednesday, pilots and the entire WWL organization held a moment of silence at the accident site and showered it with orange flowers, according to the WWL Facebook page.

On Thursday, pilots returned to Tianmen Mountain to continue practicing but agreed not to jump the side of the mountain where Kovats crashed out of respect for their fallen comrade.

The event will go on as scheduled on Sunday.

Sadly, the death of Kovats is the latest involving wingsuit fatalities. British stuntman Mark Sutton, who parachuted into the 2012 London Olympics Opening Ceremony dressed as James Bond, died upon hitting a cliff after jumping from a helicopter in Switzerland.

In September, an unidentified American wingsuit flier died in an accident in the French Alps, marking the sixth wingsuit pilot death in six months in the Alps.