About the project

Wingsuit World is an online platform that allows wingsuit pilots to practice and compete against each other in global online competitions using their true1 performance results. Every wingsuit pilot knows that PPC scores for Distance and Speed tasks are strongly affected by winds aloft, varying by more than 100% in some cases2 , depending on the direction of flight in strong wind conditions. Therefore, comparing PPC results even between jumps made a few hours apart at the same dropzone is meaningless and can be very misleading. This makes performance training an extremely difficult and often frustrating task, significantly slowing down the progress of every pilot who does not have an airspeed indicator built into his/her wingsuit.

About wind cancellation

Modern weather forecast models provide reasonably accurate3  information about local atmospheric conditions, especially within the first 6-12 hours of the forecast. In order to account for winds aloft in GPS tracks recorded by FlySight, the system performs a wind-cancellation procedure, by which PPC scores for Distance and Speed tasks are recalculated to represent the result that would be shown in ideal zero wind conditions. The way it works is a follows. Wind forecast data for all registered competitors and the entire duration of every online competition is stored on our server. When a track is submitted, the system finds the most recent4 forecast for the time and location of the jump and calculates the measured performance by subtracting the wind5 from the horizontal speed measured by GPS. Vertical speed and recorded altitude remain unaffected.

About online competitions

Global online competitions cannot replace real competitions, not are they designed to. Instead, they help wingsuit competitors practice for real competitions in a more efficient way, building up the skills necessary for being a safe and consistent wingsuit performance competitor. These competitions have the following advantages over traditional competitions and PPC practice jumps:

  1. You are free to pick any jump run/exit altitude/flight direction to get yourself in a clear airspace away from traffic. Going downwind is no longer necessary to get a good score in any task. Instead, you can focus on flying in a straight line through clear airspace and still show your best performance regardless of the wind direction. In fact, going upwind during Time/Distance runs, when safe to do so, will often help you come back to the dropzone. This is particularly helpful at dropzones where wingsuit pilots are not offered extended jump runs several miles out. Note that careful planning and full awareness of the airspace are still necessary when performing every wingsuit jump.
  2. Online competition period extend over a period of several days, allowing competitors in any part of the globe enough time to perform the necessary number of jumps to complete the competition.
  3. For a small registration fee wingsuit pilots can now practice performance competition jumps while competing against their friends and other pilots across the world. As an additional incentive, a substantial fraction of registration fees will go towards cash prizes for the top-5 competitors in each class (Advanced/Intermediate) and  the main prizes at the end of the season. The rest of the competition budget will be going towards maintenance expenses and further development of the project.
  4. PPC competitions have become very rare because of the costs associated with hosting such events. In the US there will be only one more competition in 2018 (USPA Nationals, $375 registration fee). Global online competition is the only way for most pilots to stay current and involved in the sport throughout the season.

 

 


1 i.e. adjusted for winds aloft, based on the most advanced publicly available global forecast models (e.g., GFS).

2 compare, for example, these two distance runs: 2801m and 5996m.

3 It is reasonable to expect the GFS wind forecast to be accurate within ~5knots. A typical Distance run for an advance competitor is about 3.5 km and 80 seconds, in which case a 5 knots error in horizontal speed translates to about 6% (200m) error in result. For a Speed run (typical speed of 250km/h in zero wind conditions) the error is about 4%. While it does not look great at first, the final result for a competition is a sum of percentages for each of 3 tasks, one of which (Time) is not affected by the wind-cancellation procedure. Considering that random errors associated with FlySight measurements (GPS accuracy, interpolation, etc.) are of the order of 1-2%, the accuracy of forecast-based track corrections is reasonable, which was confirmed by over a year of testing.

4 GFS forecasts for the next several days are issued by NOAA every 6 hours (starting at 00Z, 06Z, 12Z, and 18Z) with approximately a 4-hour delay. This means that if the skydive was done at 13:30 (UTC), the most accurate forecast for the time interval between 13:00 and 14:00 will not be available until about 16:00. If the jump is submitted to the competition before 16:00 of that day, the forecast from 06:00 (issued at ~10:00) will be used instead to estimate the winds during the jump (interpolating between the 13:00 and 14:00 forecast data). Once the 12Z forecast becomes available, the system automatically recalculates and updates the result of the jump.

5 weather forecast data provided by rNOMADS, courtesy of Daniel Bowman.