Vincent Refet, a French stuntman known for challenging jumps from the world’s tallest towers and highest mountains and jet landing airstrikes, died in Dubai during a training session on Tuesday, his company said. He was 36.
Free-flying world champion and avid BASE jumper (involving jumps from towering static objects, not from an airplane), Mr Reffet has taken breathtaking feats, including a record jump of more than 2,700 feet from a platform above the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building. worldwide and average aerial diving in a 13,000-foot mountain in Switzerland.
Jetman Dubai, of which he was a member, confirmed his death but did not provide further details. Dubai police and the United Arab Emirates General Civil Aviation Authority did not respond to requests for comment.
Mr Reffet’s status jumped in 2015 after attracting the attention of Yves Rossy, a Swiss aviation enthusiast who became the first man to fly a jet wing, and later invited Mr Reffet to become the second “Jetman” for your group.
In Dubai, the group works with XDubai, a brand of extreme sports approved by the heir to the throne. In a trick that went viral, the couple flew jets over Dubai to the Emirates Airbus 380, the world’s largest passenger plane.
The son of two divers, Mr. Reffet grew up in Annecy, eastern France. He was introduced to the world of air stunts at an early age, making his first solo leap in 2000, according to a biography on the Redbull website, the energy drink that sponsored him. Many of his exploits were done with his friend and close associate Frederick Fugen, with whom he also formed Soul Flyers, a team of paratroopers and jumpers.
In interviews, Mr. Reffet had talked about the liberation that jet-flying gave him and the joy he felt was expanding.
“It’s the feeling of freedom,” he told the Associated Press in 2015. “When I parachute, I have that feeling of freedom – I can love going where I want – but always get off.” And yet with the jet, he said, “I can fly like a bird.”
BASE jumping is one of the most dangerous recreational sports in the world, and even with a backpack, Mr. Reffet was aware of the dangers associated with its stunts.
“To be completely autonomous, you know, there is a risk of losing your life. Something went wrong, you have to act fast, “he said in the documentary” Loft: The Jetman Story. ” And the excitement of feats such as the approach of a plane over the Swiss mountains was a “mental” battle that will leave a person “sick to the stomach”, he told Agence France-Presse last month.
His exploits of landscapes such as the Dubai skyline, Europe’s highest mountain, Mont Blanc and China’s Tianmen Cave, filmed in high definition and posted on YouTube, have brought audiences around the world to the experience.
In February, he achieved what Jetman Dubai first called: he took off with a jet pack from the ground before flying high altitude, a move reminiscent of the Marvel Iron Man hero.
He recently said on social media that “there is still a long way to go.”
Fans paid tribute to Mr Reffet on his Instagram page on Wednesday, with some saying he inspired them to get involved in the sport. “Both you and Fred are the reason I started jumping 7 years ago,” wrote one, referring to Mr. Fugen, his associate. “Fly for free forever.”