Three of the world’s top wingsuit flyers jump from Lebanon’s highest peak and skim past the iconic Cedars Forrest and the UNESCO Heritage site of Wadi Qadisha.
As anyone who’s ever visited Lebanon knows all too well, it’s a land of amazing contrasts and stunning landscapes. And, although a difficult challenge to pull off, perhaps one of the best ways to view it from a whole new angle is to skim literally right over the top of it in a wingsuit after jumping from the door of the Lebanese Air Force helicopter.
With one epic vision in mind, French BASE jumper, wingsuit flyer and Red Bull skydiver Fred Fugen from the Soul Flyers, along with Vincent Cotte and Aurelien Chatard went to Lebanon to try something that had never been done before. Guided by the Bsharri Municipality team and flown by the Lebanese Air Force, who provided the helicopter and all the aerial support, and outdoor activities company “Cedarzing”, the trio hovered over the Bsharri District to the snow-covered peak of “Korneto Dsohde”, as called in its old dialect. Better known as Black Peak, Lebanon’s highest point towers over the famous Cedars of Lebanon and many of the country’s other iconic sites.
“It is magnificent to be able to start a jump that high, in the mountains and above the Cedars, ending up deep down the canyon. Opening the parachutes between two cliffs, and landing at the end of the valley was a real rush. There is really something particular at that moment, from start to finish. It was all full of colors, full of sceneries that blend together, and which make the beauty of that place.” Said Fred Fugen.
As with all extreme wingsuit flying, wind is always the challenging factor, ready to blow the flyers off course and into the unknown. And with the peaks and valleys all around them, flying so close to the Cedars Forrest, and almost touching the 3000 - 4000 years old trees made for an extremely challenging yet impressive flight. As the team’s altitude was so low, it was a very technical and difficult jump to complete. The group often passed just meters above the ground, as they headed down towards the valleys below, much to the surprise of the mountain villagers.
During the flight, Fugen, Cotte and Chatard passed over some of Lebanon’s most famous landmarks, including the stunning village of Bsharri, the breathtaking Cedars of Lebanon, through the amazing Qadisha Valley and at close proximity to the iconic Bsharri Cross
Inspired by the Wingsuit athletes’ flight over Lebanon’s majestic sights, famed Lebanese band ADONIS produced a cinematic version of their 2021 hit “Men Ajmal Ma” (the Prettiest Sight) exclusively for the project’s soundtrack. The original track is available on the link: https://linktr.ee/MenAjmalMa
Johnny Rahme, Office Director of Bsharri Tourism, perhaps summed it up the best. He remembered an old story about the eagles of Wadi Qadisha, also known as the ‘Royal Eagles’, which used to cross the valley and protect it. In the poetic moment, watching Fugen, Cotte and Chatard soaring over him, he simply commented that these three extreme athletes were the new eagles of the holy valley of Qadisha.
For one fleeting moment, perhaps the Royal Eagles of Lebanon were back?