8:21am PT by Kimberly Nordyke
Discovery Channel to Air Live Jump Off Mount Everest
Discovery Channel has scheduled its next live stunt.
Following on the heels of its live broadcast of Nik Wallenda's tightrope walk across the Grand Canyon, the cable network said Wednesday that it will show wingsuit jumper Joby Ogwyn's attempt at the first wingsuit flight off the summit of Mount Everest. The event will air live in May on Discovery as well as in 224 countries and territories.
“This is history in the making,” said Eileen O’Neill, group president of Discovery and TLC Networks. “Discovery Channel continues to bring live broadcast events unlike anything you’ll see on television – from Felix Baumgartner’s world record for the highest space jump to Nik Wallenda’s incredible tightrope walk across the Grand Canyon.”
In June, Wallenda's tightrope crossing of the Grand Canyon proved a huge ratings draw for Discovery. An average 8.5 million viewers tuned in to Skywire Live, swelling to nearly 13 million during the actual walk.
For Ogwyn's stunt, Discovery said it plans to air two hourlong pre-shows revealing his training and preparations, followed by the live two-hour broadcast that will show Ogwyn's ascent to the summit and jump from the top. His custom-made wingsuit will be equipped with cameras providing a bird’s-eye view as he descends more than 10,000 vertical feet at speeds of more than 150 miles per hour.
At age 24, Ogwyn became the youngest person to make it to the top of Everest. In 2008, he set the world record for the fastest ascent of Everest, climbing from the base of the south side route to the summit in just nine and a half hours – a journey that typically takes three or four days.
“This will be the final piece of my dream. Ever since I was a kid, I’ve imagined what it would be like to fly. I can’t think of a more spectacular backdrop than Everest,” Ogwyn said. “Everything that I’ve ever accomplished in my life has just been practice for what I’m about to do.”
He will conduct dozens of test jumps in California, Florida, Utah and the Swiss Alps and then travel to the Himalayas for final training. After six weeks of acclimatization, he will then take on Everest.
The live event is produced by Peacock Productions for Discovery with Gretchen Eisele, Colleen Halpin, Benjamin Ringe and Knute Walker serving as executive producers. Sharon Scott is president and GM of Peacock Productions. Howard Swartz serves as executive producer for Discovery.