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Gary Harbird

Gary 'Muppet' Harbird
Date: January 24, 2011 Nationality: English
Object Type: Earth
Location: High Ultimate, Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland
COD: Impact (freefall)
Clothes / Suit: Wingsuit, cliff strike in freefall

Gear: Gary was wearing a Vampire 1 wingsuit and a perigree pro with a new vented flik 260.

"Gary "Muppet" Harbird was a very experienced skydiver and base jumper with about 8000 and 400 jumps respectively. He was very current on his V1 wingsuit at the time of the accident. Gary had jumped the High Ultimate once before but this was the first time with a wingsuit. Many of the locals were/are divided over whether this is a safe wingsuit exit or not but Gary decided to give it a go, fully knowing the risk. Only seeing the exit from my point of view it can be speculated what exactly happened. Gary pushed off hard and out with both feet from a standing position at the end of the platform. As he disappeared out of view, he appeared to be rotating head down with more than usual speed. I rushed to the end of the platform for a better look and saw the topskin of his fully inflated canopy only 500 or 600 feet below the exit. The canopy made a slow righthand turn with no signs of human input and disappeared back out of view while flying towards the cliff. Gary and his canopy became entangled with a shrub about halfway down the cliff where his body remained until being recovered by longline about 45 minutes later. Gary had severely impacted his head at some stage hard enough to make his Protec helmet and gopro come off. He also had severe trauma to at least one leg. This makes me suspect that Gary struck the big outcrop after exit. He likely pitched immediately before impacting and struck as his canopy inflated. Both closing loops were reported to be intact, though this cannot be said for certain as no "experts" examined the gear. I saw the canopy and there was no suspect damage. Gary was still completely zipped up in his suit when he was recovered. Knowing that there was a ledge to clear, I think that Gary was nervous and pushed extra hard on exit but lost focus on keeping his body attitude head high in such a way that would allow him to transition into a dive normally rather than too fast. Seeing how hard he pushed I think it is possible that he rotated past head down and lost control and/or orientation of where the ledge was. Gary was an inspiration and mentor to many and is greatly missed."

The List:
BASE Fatality List

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