By Luke Kenton
This speed-flying devil avoided countless potentially fatal collisions when he zoomed down the side of a mountain range, nearly skimming several trees on his way through, leaving him inches away from a deadly crash.
Though a career in database administration wouldn’t be considered a particularly dangerous field, Bridger Henrisken gets his blood-pumping kicks during his spare time, throwing himself off of a mountainside at speeds of up to 100mph.
Standing atop one of his favourite launch spots, in Provo, Utah, the 29-year-old thrill seeker runs off the side of ‘Y Mountain’ with only his trusty canopy to catch him from dropping 8,500ft below.
Picking up a surge of speed instantly, Bridger hurtles towards a horde of hundreds of trees, at a speed of 70mph, weaving intricately in between their tops, with just inches to spare either side.
As if a near-literal ‘brush with death’ wasn’t enough, Bridger launches himself into a number of barrel rolls before darting towards another minefield of trees, on January 14.
Knowing that even the slightest bit of contact could have fatal consequences, Bridger – who has jumped from this spot hundreds of times – expertly maneuvers his way through the improvised slalom run, before landing safely on the ground.
A speed-flying pilot of four years, Bridger said: “It [Y Mountain] can’t be flown very often due to the elevation of its peaks and the proximity to a major canyon which has strong winds.
“A lot of my friends and family thought I was crazy at first – I know I’d have thought the same before I got into doing this.
“Sometimes I’m feet away from the trees and sometimes it’s only inches.
“You really learn the width of your wing and where it is in relation to the terrain.
“So, despite how it may sometimes seem I’m always in control – my excellent peripheral vision certainly helps.
“The first one or two years of extreme sports are the most dangerous, and it’s fair to say I had my fair share of scary moments.
“Thankfully it never resulted in anything more than a bump or a scrape, because the common injuries include a broken leg or even back.
“I try to always give myself some room for error and only get super close to terrain when I know conditions are prime and I know the area quite well.
“If anyone wants to get into the sport of speed-flying, I highly recommend they try paragliding first.
“It is not a sport you can just jump into without running massive risk of injury or death, but it can be very safe with the right approach.”