Texas A&M former student and U.S. Marine Kyle Lobpries is one of the world’s best at wingsuit flying, a new extreme sport in which people “fly” to earth after jumping from an airplane or mountain perch wearing a wingsuit — an apparatus that includes sections of fabric between a wearer’s arms and legs that resemble a bird’s wings — and a parachute that is deployed at the end of the “flight.”
“You control your movements in your descent with very subtle shifts in your weight and arm and leg position,” said Lobpries. “Soaring in a wingsuit truly feels like flying. The wind is in your face and the ground rushes below you.”
Lobpries, who earned a Bachelor of Environmental Design degree at Texas A&M in 2006, earned his place among the sport’s best with a 10th place finish at the inaugural World Cup of Wingsuit Performance Flying May 25-29 in Netheravon, UK.
He competed as part of the first-ever United States Wingsuit Team, a 10-member group chosen by the United States Parachute Association based on wingsuit flyers’ scores in recent competitions. The final standings in the UK competition were determined after a compilation was made of contestants’ flight time, speed and distance after three jumps from an aircraft flying at 12,000 feet.
Lobpries also excelled in the first-ever USPA National Championships of Wingsuit Flying in Chicago Sept. 28 – Oct. 4, finishing in 12th place against competitors from across the globe.
In the USPA's skydiving national championships Oct. 22 and 23, a competition that measures vertical freefall speed, Lobpries zoomed to a second-place finish, reaching a top speed of more than 270 mph.
On Oct. 17, he was part of a 61-person skydiving team that set a world record for the largest group of wingsuit fliers to make a formation while in freefall. The group, jumping from three planes at an altitude of 13,000 feet, formed a diamond as they sailed to earth over Perris, Calif.
As a captain in the U.S. Marines, Lobpries has piloted Cobra attack helicopters in Afghanistan and trained Navy personnel to support overseas Marine relief operations.
Lobpries trained naval air traffic controllers during a recent deployment aboard the USS Bonhomme Richard, an amphibious assault ship that’s part of a group of U.S. Navy vessels sailing in the western Pacific and Indian Oceans. He also coordinated transfers of people and cargo to and from the ships during ports of call.
He is also continuing an interest in photography that began while earning his BED and shooting for the Battalion, the campus newspaper, and Aggieland, the Texas A&M University yearbook.