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Alexander Polli (1985 - 2016)

Photos via Facebook

Alexander Polli (1985 - 2016)

Alexander Polli, a skydiver and pioneer of BASE jumping, died Monday, Aug. 22, 2016, in a wingsuit crash in the French Alps. He was 31.

Polli's YouTube videos of wingsuit BASE jumping were wildly popular, with millions watching his incredible flights. Among the most-watched was his 2013 video of a flight through the opening of "Batman Cave" in Montserrat, Spain. The narrow opening seemed like an impossible target – until Polli sailed right through at 155 mph after dropping from a helicopter.

Born June 26, 1985, in Norway, Polli held dual Italian and Norwegian citizenships. He began as a skydiver, achieving proficiency in that sport before he began BASE jumping, leaping from cliffs, mountains, or buildings in a wingsuit and soaring through the air for long distances before opening a parachute at the last minute. He was among the first to take on the challenge of flying in a wingsuit, beginning his practice of the sport just a few years after the specialized suits were developed.

In an interview with DW, he explained the appeal of his extreme sport: "I stand up there in my wingsuit and ask myself: What are you doing here? Am I mad or what? But then it dawns on me what I'm about to do, and I realize that I can simply enjoy it because I have been through all that training. And then I think to myself, 'Good Lord, I am really going to fly down this mountain!?' And after landing, when I look back up or when I watch a video of my flight on a big screen, I think 'Wow! Is that really me?' I mean – this is a dream come true."

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The area of the Alps where Polli crashed is a popular destination for BASE jumpers, but it's also a dangerous one. Polli's was one of many accidents in the Couloir Ensa.

Polli was remembered by the World Wingsuit League in a statement on Facebook: "Alex was known for his hard-core proximity lines and that legacy continues to inspire new generations of jumpers for years to come. Besides jumping, friends from all around the world are going to miss his free-spirit energy and contagious laughter."

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