Catching up with… Flavien Mazzon

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French Wingsuit Tunnel Coach and Competitor

Find out what it’s like working at the indoor wingsuit tunnel and Flavien’s predictions of the future of wingsuit progression…

A happy Flavien Mazzon
Photo by Marine Descols

Where are you from, where do you live, and what’s your role in the sport? 

Hi! My name is Flavien. I am from France but I currently live in Stockholm, Sweden. I moved here to work as a full time Wingsuit Instructor and Coach in the first wingsuit tunnel in the world. 

How did you get involved in the sport?

I think my story started out like a lot in the sport. It began in 2010 when I made a tandem skydive for my first jump. At the time I was 16. At 17, I made a static line jump. I faked my father’s signature for the waiver. I was certain already that I wanted to fly, I just didn’t know how.

What has been your timeline and progression since then?

My first years in the sport were not very productive. As an unemployed student, I was logging only around 20 jumps a year. Then everything sped up in 2018 when I started to work as an ergonomist and started making more skydives. I began competing in Wingsuit Performance and Acrobatic. In 2019 I got my wingsuit coach rating. In 2020 I got my Freefly coach rating and I won the French Nationals in Acro. At that time I had no plans to work in the sport. In 2022, I quit my job because I was not finding purpose in it. I was looking for another company in my field of expertise but before I had time to find anything, I received a message from Jonas, the CEO of Indoor Wingsuit Stockholm. “We’ve got an opening at our tunnel. Do you want to work with us?” he asked. Three days later I was on a plane for Stockholm. The opportunity was too good to miss. Now I can fly every day and I’m happy to wake up every morning to teach my passion. I guess I found some of the purpose I was looking for!

Flavien leads a flock
Photo by Lucien Ruffy

What is it like working at the indoor wingsuit tunnel? 

It’s actually pretty intense! We do not have a lot of coaches and the number of students has been skyrocketing since the end of Covid’s period. Currently it can be difficult to find a slot without booking months in advance. Unlike most vertical tunnels where instructors spend most of their time handling first-timers, we spend most of our time coaching proflyers who are coming to fly multiple hours and really improve their flying. That usually amounts to 3 or 4 students a day. The pro flyers represent around 80% of our job. Then we spend 15% coaching ski jump athletes and around 5% on first-timers.

How do you see wingsuit flying changing with the addition of a wingsuit wind tunnel? 

The tunnel has only been around for a few years but I already see a big improvement in the overall skills in the wingsuit community. We see more and more people able to fly fast in tight and big formations. We also see more people able to fly dynamic lines or add complex acrobatic moves in their jumps. The tunnel has been a great tool to get to a deeper level of understanding in every aspect of wingsuit flying. Only a few years ago, I was taught to do transitions by the method “huck it and pray for the best.” Now we have the possibility to teach so many things better in the tunnel but also in the sky where it will benefit the flyers who can’t or don’t want to come to the tunnel.  This is already great and it will only continue to get better. 

What I also like about the wingsuit tunnel is that you cannot do everything inside the tunnel. You cannot dive hard, flare harder, do steep turns or play with a big cloud. The tunnel will never replace the sky. In the vertical tunnel you can do everything that you can do in the sky, except angle. So a lot of athletes are becoming nearly exclusive tunnel flyers and I think this will never happen for wingsuit flying.

The tunnel will never replace the sky

Finding joy as a tunnel instructor
Photo by Kevin Oliveri

How many skydives do you have?

I have around 2000 jumps. Probably 700 in freefly and 1200 in a wingsuit.

Are you also a base jumper? If so, how many jumps. 

I do base jump. I’m still a beginner. I like to take my time. I have 30 jumps.

Who has inspired you in the sport?

Fred Fugen and Vince Reffet are, and always will be, my biggest inspirations. For their skills and titles of course but more importantly for their spirit and the way they share their passion with everyone.

Nicolas Arnaud, despite the fact that we could not share a lot of time with each other, had a huge impact on the way I coach and the way I compete.

And obviously Vincent Cotte because he is a freaking beast!

How do you continue to progress your own flying and education in the sport as a coach and also as a flyer?

When you start working as a coach your progression is always super fast. You spend so much time in the air, doing so many repetitions of every basic skill. After a few months of flying every day, the curve flattens and you start to have to work hard for your progress. To keep progressing I share a lot of flying time with the other coaches. We try to push each other, flying faster, more difficult lines that we cannot fly with our students. I also watch the other coaches teaching. Seeing different approaches to the same problem helps me get a better understanding of each move and gives me ideas to widen my “toolbox” of exercises.

Building solid basics and enjoying the journey is the best way to progress fast and achieve your goals

Serious training at Indoor Wingsuit Stockholm
Photo by Lou Bange

What’s left for flying? How do you think we can innovate within wingsuit flying?

Ten years ago I would have not guessed all the things we are able to do today. Who knows what wingsuiting will be in ten years from now! Everything is improving so fast because the skills are evolving but the technology of wingsuits is also improving at a crazy rate in the meantime. If you want some wild guesses, I’d say more performances, side-flying, feet-first flying, landing without a rig – who knows!

What is currently getting you excited about flying?

I recently created a “dive-pool” of dynamic moves to try a new competitive format similar to dynamic flying in the vertical tunnel. Testing the format, seeing other people try it, finding different ways to fly and competing is exhilarating. More generally, seeing videos of students crushing it in the sky always gets me super stoked.

Photo by Lucien Ruffy

Do you have a fitness routine to maximize your ability to fly?

I’m not a morning person. So don’t expect me to do my work-out before working. And I can’t call it a routine since I’m not as regular as I should. But when I do, I start the day with shoulders and neck mobility exercises, dynamic stretches and light core exercises. When my working day is over, I use the small gym set up at the tunnel. I always start with a bungee for shoulder reinforcement then I move on to more general exercises like weighted pull-ups, push-ups and squats.

Favorite places to jump?

Perros-Guirrec, in French Brittany, has a special place in my heart. This is where I did my first jumps above the sea and never got bored of the view. Cliffs are pinkish and the water is somewhat turquoise. Djilor Pout Pout in Senegal is also crazy beautiful. Rivers everywhere that flow into the Atlantic ocean. DZ is in the middle of nowhere, it feels ‘otherworldly’.

Flavien loving his new career
Photo by Marine Descols

Do you have any advice for someone just getting started in the sport?

Don’t rush it. Every step is super fun. I’ve seen a lot of students who were a bit too “goal-oriented”. They were skipping steps and putting a lot of pressure on themselves trying to become freefly skygods or base jumpers. Building solid basics and enjoying the journey is the best way to progress fast and achieve your goals.

Any final words for our readers?

Landing out without a good excuse is a wingsuiter’s greatest shame. But a beautiful cloud that you wanted to play with is a valid excuse to land out. 😉

Flavien, by Alex Swindle

Where can people find you?

I’m announcing on my Instagram when and where I’m available for coaching. I will also organise three “Introduction to Wingsuit Performance” camps in France next season. Dates will also be on my Instagram.

Lastly – do you have any sponsors you want to give a shout out to?

Thanks to UPT Vector, Squirrel, Tonfly and, LB for their support!

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Meet: Alethia Austin

Alethia is a passionate full time international angle and freefly coach. As the creator of LSD Bigway Camps and LSD Angle Camps, she's been running skills camps in skydiving for over 8 years around the world. Some of her coaching and LSD camps have taken her to Botswana, Egypt, Central America, North America, Europe and more. Alethia brings her years of yoga teaching, love of good health and healthy living into the way she coaches angle flying and vertical flying. Alethia was a regional captain for the Women's Vertical World Record and has two world records. Her sponsors include UPT, Tonfly, PD, Cypres and LB Altimeters.

You can find her on Instagram at Instagram.com/alethiaja

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