My name is Eirik Flyversen Syversen. So far, I have survived 31 rounds around the sun. I am born and raised in Norway and am currently living in a beautiful mountain village called Voss, located in Norway’s western part. You may be familiar with Voss, as it is a popular travel destination for all kinds of extreme sports athletes. Also, it is well known for its annual event, Ekstremsportveko, aka Extreme Week. This is where I am lucky to be living!
Skydiving was obviously a necessity to achieve my goal of flying wingsuits.
I stumbled upon skydiving and tunnel flying quite late in my life, I was 24 when I first began skydiving. Honestly, how I ended up flying around a glass chamber wearing a tight suit and jumping off of cliffs with wingsuits -and out of airplanes – is nothing short of a fairy tale to me. One thing led to the other, and I continued because it was fun, and I just never stopped. Initially, like many other stories, my story started with a certain inspiration. The first thing that caught my attention and dragged me on to the free fall pathway was wingsuit base jumping. Back in 2012, before I made my skydiving course, I seen the “People are Awesome” videos. These videos featured badass people flying in Squirrel suits buzzing cliffs, trees and buildings.
A serendipitous meeting
I searched the internet up, down, left, right, and to infinity, looking for cool clips and videos. Actually, I remember specifically coming across Jokke Sommer, Espen Fadnes, and Ludovic Woerth in the “Dreamlines” series and instantly becoming a fan. At that time, Jokke and a gentleman named Tom Erik Heimen did a flyby on a TV show called “Oppdrag Sognefjorden”. That’s how I came to know Tom Erik’s name.
\Later in 2013, I was attending a motivational speech through work, hosted by a secret guest. It turned out that the secret guest was Tom Eirik Heimen, and he told his wingsuit flying story on stage. At that moment, I was at the same place as one of the guys I’ve been watching doing all these crazy stunts. I couldn’t let the chance to talk to him slip away. After his speech, I went over and spoke with him briefly. I received a lot of information about what steps I would have to take to do what he does. My thought was “If somebody else can, then so can I.”
Finding my home drop zone
The very next day I called up the closest skydiving club, signed up for the first possible AFF course, and pre-paid the whole thing. That is how I started. I did my AFF course at Skydive Tønsberg in 2014 and did about 300 skydives within the first year and started wingsuit flying with around 250 skydives.
Completely in love, and so the story goes on. In 2015, I saved up a pile of money, quit my job, and went skydive traveling with a good friend, Jesper Forsmann Ringstad. We both moved to Voss in 2016 and started working in the reception at Skydive Voss. All we did was eat, work, skydive, sleep, repeat.
During this time I had stayed in touch with Tom Erik via social media. He was kind enough to answer all of my questions and guide me in the right direction. Later in 2016, Tom Erik and another friend of mine, Walker Mackey, took me for my first base jump in Romsdalen.
First experience with the wind tunnel
As an appetizer, I want to share my first encounter with the tunnel. This was my first year of skydiving, just after the season ended. At the time, I lived in my city of origin, Drammen and it is 6 hours by car to get to Voss. I purchased 2 hours of tunnel time at Vossvind, which at the time was a huge deal for me. Admittedly, I was under the impression that you will become pro super fast if you fly in the wind tunnel. That was the word on the DZ.
Two hours of flying is like 120 skydives, right?
Unfortunately, as you all probably know, that’s not how that works. It turns out that if you want to get good at anything at all, no matter what it is, you’re gonna need more than 2 hours. After those 2 hours of wind tunnel flying, I was left with nothing but a dent in my ego and bruises on my back. I had humongous expectations and got served. That’s a lesson learned, and I put that one in the experience jar. Now I try to gently pass that information on to any new skydiver or tunnel flyer without crashing others dreams.
I didn’t give up. Even though that was a wake up call, something inside me lit up. A few years later, I moved to Voss, taking a nightshift job at a child service institution outside of town. My masterplan was to combine working, jumping, potentially start doing camerawork at the DZ and then spend all the money on tunnel time to become an instructor. That process went a lot faster than I initially imagined.
The wind tunnel and I
One day I dropped by the tunnel to see a friend and hang out. Apparently I had good timing because right then and there, the instructors were having a meeting about an upcoming instructor course. Luckily for me, someone had just withdrawn from the course, leaving an open slot. Rune Aspvik, who later on became my coach and competition teammate, saw me walking in. Literally he pointed at me and said, “that guy would probably kill for that slot.”
After the meeting, the chief instructor asked me if I would be interested in participating in the course, and indeed I was. This was me being given a golden opportunity, and I saw that as a call to action. My mind was set on doing whatever it would take to become a good body flyer.
I finished the course, got signed off, sold my soul to satan, and Vossvind offered me a job.
From that point on, I did whatever I could for that sweet, sweet breeze of air. I took all the shifts and did as many groups as humanly possible to get the most flying out of every day. The instructors get 2 hours of flying time per month, and they get to fly a 1-minute demonstration after each group of first time flyers. As well, a few times during winter, I went skiing around the local slopes handing out flyers for the tunnel in return for flying time. At one point I was hanging up big advertisement billboards around town. So I did a whole bunch of side missions for the tunnel to get more time to fly.
The freezing winter
The other massive advantage of the freezing winter is that the tunnel must be heated up every day before the first group. This means that the tunnel had to run on 95% until the air temperature is comfortable enough for customers. Even though I barely could survive on that airspeed at the time, I rocked up every morning to fly the freezing warm-up time. The first winter at Vossvind, I think I clocked around 25 hours of free tunnel time. Cold, but sweet. I wanted to become good enough to start competing in dynamic tunnel flying and I had to do anything to make that happen.
Aside from maximizing the potential for flying at any give time, I spent absolutely all of the money I earned on flying. Time went by, and I was progressing rapidly, having the time of my life. During this time I had two jobs. Working nights at the child service institution and during the day as a tunnel instructor. For almost 18 months I was bouncing from job to job with just a few hours of sleep. Far too often, I used to come directly to Vossvind from a night shift. Sleeping a few hours on a beanbag in the staff room, smashing first timers like a champion all day, going home to sleep 2-3 hours before the night shift started again.
During this period of work, flying and little sleep, I was coached a lot by the local flying rockstar, Rune Aspvik. Rune and Marius Sotberg (“FlajFlaj” “Berserk FreeFly”) were both Vossvind sponsored flyers and competed internationally in Dynamic 2-way. After the Sakura-Cup competition in April 2018, Marius wanted to step down from competition flying and resign from the Vossvind D2W team.
Rune, on the other hand, wanted to charge even harder than before. In lack of better options, Rune saw potential in me as a body flyer, even though I was far from ready to compete. While the boys were in Japan, I got a text from Rune saying, “I need someone to fly with me at the World Cup in Bahrain this October. Are you up for flying a whole lot more from now on?”. Obviously I instantly replied a big “YES, I am ready!”
Over the next few months, we flew a bizarre amount of hours to get me up to speed.
Rune called it “tunnel flying on steroids.” In a short period, I had to learn the whole dynamic dive pool, including technical flying manoeuvres that I did not possess the skills to perform yet. Not to mention on airspeeds that seemed terrifying. I trained day in, day out as much as possible. Both in the tunnel and also at the gym. Personally, I believe that being in good physical shape, having a good posture, a strong core, and an overall agile body is very beneficial to flying. Having outstanding balance and good coordination on top of that will help you progress a lot faster. So I spent a lot of time improving my physique to be able to perform better at flying. Simply optimizing my potential for progression and making sure I’m not skipping a beat.
First competition, we won a gold medal at the Norwegian nationals and started off our journey with a portion of feel good. However, the Bahrain WCIS 2018 competition later that year was a train wreck. We ended up in a fabulous 17th place after I completely brain farted in one of our free rounds and bounced off the walls in a few speed rounds. Lasers blasting red like a Star Wars dogfight. It for sure was an overwhelming and nerve wrecking experience for me. Although, I did learn a lot.
Every competition we did after that slowly got better and better.
Soon flying improved, the confidence grew and the competition scene started to become familiar. Rune and I ended up doing 8 competitions together. We earned a few national gold medals, one bronze medal in the Belgium Open and our last one was 8th place at the world championship in Weembi 2019. The plan was to do one more world cup and one more world championship together. However, due to the global pandemic and other various practical reasons, our time as a team, unfortunately reached an end.
Rune stuck his neck out for me and helped me get my first sponsorship at Vossvind, and he helped me progress a lot as a flyer. I wouldn’t be where I am today without him. He pushed me to my limits and beyond. Runes former teammate, Marius Sotberg has also meant a lot to me on my tunnel journey. Marius has been helpful both inside and outside the tunnel, being a good coach when it comes to the mental aspect of competing. Marius helped me gain more control over my fierce competition nerves.
The bar raises every year and the pool of great flyers becomes more prominent by the hour.
If we had continued as a team at that pace, we might have been able to compete for a podium position in a world event. Currently, I spend most of my time teaching body flying to others here at Vossvind. Also, I obtained my AFF ratings last year and will be working full-time as an AFF instructor at Skydive Voss this upcoming season. Personally I try to continually enhance my technical flying skills and my understanding of flying. This way I can better guide the next eager flyer, like myself.
For the time to come that is what I’ll be working on. If I can influence people the same way Tom Erik, Jokke, Espen, Rune, Marius did to me, that would be awesome. Because “If I can, so can you.”
Keep coming back
Finally, I want to give a massive shout out to the crew over at Deem Flywear for having my back since the very start of my flying career. Great people, making great products. S/O to the Bula guys, Vossvind, and Ekstremsportveko, you guys are legends. Keep kicking ass, and thanks for the support.
To get in touch with Eirik Flyversen please click on his name and follow him on Instagram.
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