25 May

Ueli Gegenschatz soars in a wingsuit

As of today, the Avengers is the highest grossing film of 2012, the sixth highest grossing film of all time and by and far, the highest grossing film distributed by Walt Disney Pictures.

“It was huge!  Gigantic!  Awe inspiring!” – description by Disney Exec when asked to describe the ridiculous pile of money that the Avengers has made.

To put it into numbers, this MOVIE, has earned over a billion dollars.  That’s a thousand million, or nine zeros.  A billion minutes is about 1,900 years.

This is a big number.  And last time I checked, going to see a 3D movie in the theater was $15.99, so that means a whole mess of chairs have been filled for the 2 hours and 23 minutes it runs for.

I’ve got a few stories to tell about the Avengers, but before I continue, here’s the link to this week’s soaring TED Talk.

(Note: Title at the top of the page is also link)

Date Filmed: April 2009

Length: 12 minutes, 11 seconds

Ok, quick aside back to the Avengers.

The first time I saw the Avengers, I only saw about ‘half’ of the movie.  However, the parts I DID see, was full of energy, excitement and great fighting.  It was a movie I sort of expected to see.

Why did I only see half?  Well, that’s because I decided to go gusto and attend the Avengers’ Marathon where they played the 5 movies that led up to the Avengers team up.  So starting at 11:30 in the morning, I sat through Iron Man, Iron Man II, The Hulk, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America all to climax for a midnight showing of the Avengers.

I didn’t make it.

I paced myself too.  I knew that to take quick cat naps during certain movie scenes that I didn’t care for and to be wide awake during those movies that I hadn’t seen.  It was a challenge of both physical and mental disciplines.  Of the 4 others I had gone with, I was the only one to actually make it through all the movies.  I was ready for the coup de gras, to watch the Avengers with a clenched fist bitten between my teeth.

Instead I was quietly snoring behind a pair of Incredible Hulk 3d Glasses while dressed in my Forever Lazy one piece sleeper.  If you’re going to be in a theater for 12 hours, might as well be comfortable.

It was after the second time I had saw the Avengers did I get to see the astounding dialogue and relationships that really made the four main protagonists shine.

We have:    Thor – Iron Man – Hulk/Banner – Captain America

Four characters, each with their own unique abilities and sensibilities and yet they all integrated well with each other.  No, it was more than that, they GEEKED out together.

By the term Geeked, it is in reference to the idea that they bonded individually over something that was specific to them either by study or history.  So two sci fi fans might geek out by talking about a sci-fi movie, car enthusiasts geek out at a car show, two models might geek out over a clothing line etc.

This is what I saw the characters geek out about:

Being Brainy -> Iron Man and Hulk/Banner

Being Foreign -> Thor and Captain America (Cap being a man out of his time)

Admiration of Being Strong -> Hulk/Banner and Thor

Being Mortal / Human -> Captain America and Iron Man (note: Hulk is effectively a god, like Thor)

Being Concerned -> Captain America and Hulk/Banner

Being Boastful / Enjoys a drink or two -> Thor and Iron Man

All four characters are capable of bonding with each other and seeing the evolution of how they find ways to interact with each other was an interesting exchange.  The only contention I could see is that Cap America seems a little ‘under powered’ in contrast with the three others.  However, it is in this regard where I had one disagreement with what happened in the movie (small spoiler ahead).

Captain America meets with a pair of cops and gives them a clear set of orders to help maintain the situation.  The cops ask, ‘Why should we do what you say?’ and Cap defends them all from a bunch of baddies by quickly dispatching them, the cops turn around and immediately get to work.

In the comics, Captain America wouldn’t have needed that ‘display’, rather by natural command and voice he should have been recognized as an authority.  However, it was a cool scene in the movie, so it works too.

So how is this related to TED?  Why with the Avengers breaking records everywhere, why not see what Avengers related TED talk might exist.

And after some searching, I found this TED Talk about a man and his wingsuit.  A real life ‘Iron Man’, if Iron Man only flew and didn’t fire repulsor rays out of his palms.

Gegenschatz, from Switzerland, is an obvious adrenaline junkie from the start of talk.  He begins by showing pictures of himself paragliding and breaking world records.  This interest develops and evolves towards Sky diving, and from there to base jumping and also to Wingsuit Dives.

It’s a remarkable evolution and it shows immediately that to do Wingsuit Dives, one needs to have the experience, confidence and physical conditioning that is required to do it.

This is something Tony Stark (Iron Man) never does!  You don’t see him training or stepping through middle ground like sky diving.  Iron just puts the suit on and flies around like a freakin’ jet fighter piloted by a drunk maniac.  To actually ‘BE’ Iron man, even in terms of flying alone, takes a heck of a lot of skill.

Iron Man, just makes it look easy.  He probably has some subliminal flight simulator running in the background while he sleeps in his Iron Pajamas.

One Sentence Summary

“Flying under one’s own devices is just cool.”

WIngsuit gliding is beautiful.  The video Gegenschatz plays is something out of a movie.  There’s plenty of more videos / virals of wingsuit use and all of them are quite awe inspiring.  Gegenschatz is an expert for ten years and he has many videos of flying about online.  Here’s one of them:

I’d love to try this sort of thing, but I know its not as easy as simply putting on a set of red and gold armor.  It takes dedication and probably heck of a lot of hours skydiving beforehand.

What caught me off guard

In researching Gegenschatz, I was greatly saddened to learn that he died in a basejumping accident in November 2009 (about seven months after giving this TED Talk).  I do not know how many TED Talk speakers have died since sharing ideas at TED but this is the first that I’ve come across.

He is, in one perspective, lucky that he died as he lived but it is with great sadness when thinking of how many more things he could have done.

For all sad words of tongue and pen, the saddest are these, ‘It might have been.’
–John Greenleaf Whittier

This quote for me is at its saddest when what might have been, is denied a chance at reality because of choice.

(This quote is probably passed around, who hasn’t been dumped?)


Actually, the questions that came at the end of the TED talk answered a few.  This is one of the few Ted talks where a second speaker comes out and asks the primary speaker direct questions.  When I heard her voice I immediately started looking at the audience to see who was shouting out only to be surprised that she was standing on stage.

So now that its’ been shared, what can we do?

Go out and be heroes?  Take a risk to protect someone, to care for someone?  Spend 12 hours in a movie theater and fall asleep during the big show?  Maybe train to be a wingsuit jumper and fly?

You probably already know what you’d like to do.


– Updated every Friday

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Posted by on May 25, 2012 in TED Talks


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