Feedback
News

Alexander Polli, Wingsuit and BASE Jumping Pioneer, Dies in Crash

Legendary skydiver and BASE jumping trailblazer Alexander Polli has died following a wingsuit crash in the French Alps, authorities told NBC News. He was 31.

Image: Alexander Polli
Alexander Polli via Facebook

Polli achieved fame in the world of wingsuit BASE jumping, performing cinematic stunts captured on videos that captivated millions on YouTube.

The dual Italian-Norwegian national crashed into a tree shortly after 11 a.m. local time (5 a.m. ET) on Monday while jumping in the Couloir Ensa near Chamonix, according to the PGHM mountain rescue unit.

Officials said Polli died at the scene.

Wingsuit Base Jumping: The New High of Extreme Sports 2:12

The area is popular with BASE jumpers — but dangerous.

"It's a location where there are a lot of accidents," a PGHM rescuer who gave his name only as Mercer said.

Flirting with danger, though, was nothing new for Polli.

He broke boundaries in 2013 with a daring flight through the opening of "Batman Cave" in Montserrat, Spain — a stunt that saw him drop from a helicopter and hit speeds of up to 155 mph to fly directly through the narrow opening.

"This extraordinary flight exceeds the level of commitment most fliers would ever consider—there can be no attempting, the only option is success!" sporting blog Base-Jumping.EU wrote of the achievement.

Video of the "high-speed hole shot" has racked up more than 13 million views on YouTube.

The World Wingsuit League called Polli's death a "huge loss" for the community, saying his legacy "continues to inspire new generations of jumpers for years to come."

Tony Uragallo worked with Polli and designed some wingsuits for the skydiver, calling him “special” and “way spiritual” — the type of friend who’d encourage those around him to “dance the night away” and will be sorely missed.

“In jumping he was fearless — or looked it, at least, doing stunts that took my breath away,” Uragallo told NBC News in an email.

Polli was asked a few years ago about the dangers of his pursuits — and he told an interviewer that he took comfort in preparing "extremely well" for his wingsuit jumps.

"I never went out there to risk my life," he told the Deutsche Welle newspaper in 2013. "To be quite honest: I am extremely scared of dying."