Sebastián braves a Volcano

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El Ardilla flies into the heart of Villarica Volcano, the house of the devil…

…and out again, shunning his fiery cremation!

One of the world’s most accomplished wingsuit flyers, Sebastián Álvarez, has become the first person ever to fly in and out of an active volcano – successfully performing the stunt in the Araucanía Region of Chile. 

Renowned for pushing the limits, the former military pilot spent an entire year preparing for the flight into one of Chile’s most dangerous volcanos. Sebastián had identified Villarica Volcano as the ideal location for the project, because it has a huge crater with a diameter of over 200 metres and its surroundings showcase the natural beauty of his home country.

Into the mouth of the Volcano and out the other side

In the months leading up to the flight, Álvarez – fondly known as ‘El Ardilla’ –  spent much of his time at the volcano, learning all he could about the smoke columns, the air pressure and the speed of the wind. He also had to perform numerous calculations to ensure he would be able to successfully navigate in and out of the huge crater at incredibly high speed.

Once he felt ready to take on the project, he had to wait for perfect conditions. Villarica Volcano is one of the most dangerous in Chile, with frequent eruptions, so timing was everything.

Then El Ardilla had to ensure his flight direction and speed was just right as he jumped from the helicopter. He performed a wingsuit flare, descending close to 10m inside the volcano and exiting upwards out of it at a speed of 180kph.

Dani Román, who filmed Álvarez in action, said: “What Seba has done is to fly his own body inside an active crater and fly his way out of it. Just with his body, no motor, only a little bit of fabric.”

Sebastián has impressed us with many incredible projects, such as passing between the twin towers of Viña del Mar, the BASE jump from Mont Blanc, skirting the tower highest in South America – but this tops them all.

Álvarez, 36, revealed: “ ‘Villarica Volcano’ in Mapuche [an indigenous regional language] is called ‘Ruka Pillán’, which translates to ‘the house of the devil’. I felt like I was going straight to hell, and at the same time, I wanted to experience it and fly out.

“The feeling of going into the devil’s house has been one of the scariest, most dangerous and weirdest things I’ve experienced. I had to talk with the volcano first, because the volcano does what it wants and if I made a mistake, I could’ve stayed there, in hell.”

Story by Red Bull Content Pool

Images by Jean Louis de Heeckeren / Red Bull Content Pool

Further reading

The Flare

The Wingsuit Flare explained step by step by Matt Gerdes

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