Daily Mail

Beijing-Standing 4,600ft-high on Tianmen Mountain in China, 15 men and women threw caution to the wind - by jumping off the cliff.

Clad in wingsuits, the group grinned as they plummeted into the leafy valleys of the National Park to fight for the title of World Champion. They shared just one objective: to fall the fastest.

One after the other, they stood on the edge of the peak before diving - head first, arms in - through 1.2km of open air. Eventually, they spread their limbs and the flaps of the suit lift them soaring around the clear blue skies. ‘It’s just diving, diving, diving, diving, then powering through that turn,’ one of the adjudicators told NBC.

To complete the manoeuvre, the racer opens a parachute and lowers themselves to the leafy ground. As dozens of gawping bystanders watched, a team of meticulous umpires timed the drops.

Colombia’s Jhonathan Florez took the title with a record of 23.40 seconds. Two Brits made it into the eight-person final: James Boole, who came fourth with a time of 23.75 seconds, and Tony Uragallo, who came eighth with 24.52. The other finalists were from America, France, Russia and Norway.

Earlier in the day, a series of heats eliminated seven racers, including America’s Ellen Brennan, the world’s fastest falling woman.

The event was shadowed by tragedy following the death of Hungarian racer Victor Kovats during a test flight on Tuesday. Dedicating the race to him, his fellow jumpers from all over the world said he would have wanted them to carry on.

Each wingsuit consists of fabric stretched between a skydiver’s arms and legs - adding surface area to the human body. This allows them to travel horizontally, as well as slow their descent towards the ground. There are just 20 people in the world who are qualified to take part in such a competition.

Tianmen Mountain is in Zhangjiajie, and the word Tianmen translates as ‘gate in the sky’ - a reference to the huge natural hole in the mountain.