Wingsuit Pioneers Killed In Yosemite

  • May 19, 2015 7:36am GMT

Two of the most recognizable Base jumpers, Dean Potter and Graham Hunt, died in Yosemite national park Saturday. Potter, 43, was a climbing and wingsuit pioneer, creating a hybrid sport combining rock climbing without ropes and jumping called “freeBASE.” He and Hunt, 29, crashed late on Saturday after leaping from 3,000 ft Taft Point according to a Park Ranger. A friend called search and rescue when the pair failed to return from their jump. Their bodies were recovered Sunday morning, neither appeared to have deployed their parachutes. Base jumping in Yosemite is illegal and those who attempt it risk being arrested and fined. Potter made his home in Yosemite with girlfriend Jennifer Rapp and their dog Whisper, although he was known to jump with his dog the pet was not with him Saturday. (pictured below)

He set the record for the fastest ascent of Half Dome at Yosemite earlier this month as well as the longest wingsuit Base flight, nearly four miles (6.5km) in two minutes, 50 seconds, after jumping from the Eiger in Switzerland. Potter had jumped from the same point that took his life Saturday at least 20 times before, and Hunt may have too.

Graham Hunt (pictured below) lived in El Portal, where he was neighbors with Potter. Potter and Hunt went to Switzerland together a couple of years ago. “Dean was his mentor,” Hunt’s father told the Los Angeles Times, adding that he saw flying as “graduating from one step to another. It’s just more extreme and more extreme,” he said. “But it’s what he enjoyed and I supported him.”

According to Dean's webpage he was most recently working on an innovation for safety. His website says, "Amid 25+ wingsuiting deaths in the summer of 2013, Dean turned his focus to BASIC Safety: a calculated method of practicing his three arts that seeks to eliminate human error and gear malfunctions."

His experiences were well documented through Whisper Films his full-service production company that creates fine art feature films, television shows, commercials, live performances and viral online videos. His team's award-winning work appeared from National Geographic to film festivals worldwide.

VIDEO 1: NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC Published on May 27, 2014 Filmmaker and adventurer Dean Potter doesn't always BASE jump alone. Sometimes he takes the plunge with his dog, Whisper, strapped to his back. This trailer features wingsuit flight footage from Potter's film "When Dogs Fly."

VIDEO 2: Frederico Pompermayer Published on May 18, 2015 An amazingly brave and exhilarating talent, Graham Hunt is gone. The news hits hard. Our hearts are heavy. Thoughts and love to the sky. Fly free brother..."Graham touched and inspired a lot of people's lives on a deep level. He wasn't one for filling space with unnecessary chatter and he LIVED everyday friends! Be kind to everyone you meet. We are here for a breath...."