Julian Boulle, the Bird Man : Jii Wings

Julian Boulle

Julian Boulle

Designer & M.D.: Maria von Egidy
General Manager/Public Relations: Cate Turner
Test Pilot: Julian Boulle
Production/Logistics: Elmaret Roets
Website: http://www.jii-wings.com

History:

Jii-Wings and .the Human Flight Project. was born in 2002 when Shaun Smith . South African film producer, B.A.S.E jumper and wingsuit pilot brought his wingsuits to The Closet to attach pockets for his GPS. The Closet was at that time known for their skill and versatility in building costumes, creatures, special effect and haute couture garments for the film, commercial, and photographic industry in Cape Town. Maria von Egidy, designer and technical/creative brain of the business was fascinated and intrigued by the concept of wingsuit flight. She recognised immediately that the suits, while innovative and well constructed, still had room for improvement in the overall design and performance. Shaun rose to the challenge and commissioned Maria to build him a suit, incorporating elements he preferred of his birdman and crossbow suits respectively, and a few improvements suggested by Maria.

Shaun was keen to develop a suit that would make certain B.A.S.E jumps possible – that would inflate fast and out fly any dangers. Maria, after studying the aerodynamic efficiency of the flying mammals – particularly the gliding marsupials of Australia – convinced Shaun that the logical step would be to follow the design rules of nature and the result was the SugarGlider suit. About 10 prototype models were built, each introducing a new innovation and larger wingspan, until the .ultimate. shape . the outline of the present SugarGlider was arrived at. A number of innovative and alternative features were tried and tested during this period; some of them will re-appear on the various permutations of the new production model.

Shaun gave Maria detailed feedback on his flight experience off cliffs and out of planes of each new suit and helped her gain insight into where the limits to further, faster flights lie. Shaun was convinced that the SugarGlider was the best suit he had ever flown, and Maria was adamant that the best was yet to come.

Shaun decided during the development process to focus on other areas of his life, and is now based in Kenya running horse safaris. Before he hung up his rig he introduced us to Julian Boulle, well known by jumpers all over the world, a lanky, extremely talented and experienced wingsuit pilot, skydiver and BASE jumper. Julian (Jules) still tests all the suits and plays a vital role in the company and our wing development, filling in all the gaps in our knowledge of skydiving, BASE and wingsuit flight, and providing invaluable feedback and insight on his flights and the art of flying.

Around 10 suits have been sold as pre-production models and have been tried by a number of enthusiasts around the world, where they have attracted a great deal of attention. The positive response received encouraged us to commit solely to wingsuit development and many elements of the design of the new suits are a response to the feedback that has been received from the wingsuit pilots.

Julian Boulle

Julian Boulle

In September 2004 we withdrew from the film industry and formed a new company . Jii-Wings (pronounced Gee – Jeep with a silent P.Just Imagine It.) and we have since focused purely on the building and testing of the new production model . the Jii-Wings Glide System 1 (GS1 – not SG2 as a few have guessed!), as well as setting up our production facility and logistical backbone, sourcing reliable suppliers of materials and components, and building relationships with suppliers of the highest quality products who do not normally take interest in a small businesses. The production facility, design studio and administrative offices are all housed in an open-plan studio in central Cape Town, which facilitates quality control and the involvement and passion of everybody involved in the project at all levels.