Bizarre Hobbies: Flying… Without A Plane
So you’re tough. We get it. You jump out of planes and stuff. We get that, too. But have you considered the advantages of jumping out of a plane wearing a wingsuit and gliding like Rocky the Flying Squirrel across the countryside?
The earliest wingsuits went into production as early as the 1930s, and were made from canvas and whale bone. We’ll pause here for a moment to let the Steampunk potential of a whalebone flying suit sink in.
Modern wingsuits permit up to a 10:1 glide-to-drop ratio, meaning that a drop from 15,000 feet could potentially allow the diver to cross thirty miles of countryside, although the current record is “only” a little over 17 miles.
Unfortunately, it isn’t as if you can just go and buy one of these. The US Government, as well as several wingsuit manufacturers, requires that you have a minimum of 200 standard freefall jumps in the last 18 months before you can even ask for a suit. Unless you have the whalebone to make your own, that is. (Note: Please don’t do this.)
You know what’s boring? Ironing clothes. If only there was some way to combine the boring work with the soul-crushing terror of rock climbing, snowboarding, and other extreme sports. Hey, would you look at that? There is!
The “sport” in question is extreme ironing, and it has its own international associations and everything. The whole thing began in 1997, when East Midlands resident Phil Shaw was faced with a choice between taking care of his ironing or going rock climbing with friends. Despite allegedly being sober, Mr. Shaw (who now calls himself “Steam” in EI forums) decided to do both and took his ironing kit with him for the climb. And thus a new hobby was born.
The practice has spread around the world over the last 15 years. Devotees of extreme ironing have had themselves photographed pressing their shirts on kayaks, mountaintops, and even in the middle of busy freeways. Nobody seems to have been killed doing this yet, but it should be noted that nobody has been photographed ironing on top of Mt. Everest, either. Get on that, Internet.