Famous wingsuit flier dies in accident

A Hungarian wingsuit flier has been found dead after an accident during a practice flight ahead of the World Championships in Zhangjiajie, China.

According to China’s state-run Xinhua news agency (via CNN), Victor Kovats was found with his skull smashed at the base of a 100-meter cliff Wednesday, and an investigation is underway to determine exactly what went wrong.

The World Wingsuit League issued the following statement regarding Kovats’ passing on its website:

We are deeply saddened by Victor Kovats’s 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. (Kovats) was a three time Hungary national champion wingsuiter and a serious contender in the international wingsuit race circuit.

Wingsuit flying is considered to be one of the world’s most dangerous sports, and dozens have died attempting it over the years — including a British stuntman named Mark Sutton, who performed as James Bond at the London Olympics opening ceremony last summer. Sutton was killed in August when he hit a ridge after jumping from a helicopter.

Kovats had reportedly completed 700 wingsuit jumps before his death Wednesday. It is unknown whether the Wingsuit World Championships, slated to open Friday, will go on as scheduled.