The Ultimate Fly Girl
Roberta Mancino BASE jumps with the best of the boys. Here, the athlete opens up about her fascinating sport.
Tuesday, September 25, 2012 | Casey Gillespie
As an international model, skydiver, BASE jumper, wingsuit flyer, proximity flyer, black belt in Italian kickboxing, accomplished shark diver and salsa dancer, Roberta Mancino doesn’t stay still for long. At 25, she moved to Hollywood from Italy with aspirations to become a stuntwoman, and immediately fell in love with extreme sports. She hasn’t looked back since. She was voted “World’s Hottest Female Athlete” by Men’s Fitness and has garnered a long list of awards and accolades for her daring athletics. Here, we get better acquainted with a fearless woman who was born to fly.
Can you put into words what it feels like to BASE jump?
It is a really intense moment. The fear is so strong that sometimes it's hard to convince yourself to jump. I've been on the exit point of some dangerous jumps where my legs and my body were shaking and I almost felt sick with fear. You have to have a really strong mind to be able to concentrate and not let the fear take over.
I try not to think about it until I'm right there. The training is what prepares your mind so you can feel ready and comfortable.
We add a lot of surface area to our bodies so that when we jump from an airplane or a cliff, we fly like a glider, choosing our path and staying in the air for much longer than regular freefall jumpers.
Are there are a lot of women in your field?
There are many women in skydiving, but not very many in BASE jumping. And with proximity flying [skimming surfaces in flight], I still don’t have a girlfriend that will fly with me so I always fly with the guys. I feel the sport is growing, though.
I had some of the best flights of my life in the Dolomites with my Turbolenza team. And the Red Bull wingsuit event in China was really cool; it was a 108-way freefly world record. Another was when Mark Healey and I were shooting a video for GoPro and rode a big tiger shark in the Bahamas.
What do you do to relax?
BASE jumping is a great way to relax because when you land, you really don’t care about any problems afterward. Cooking and scuba diving also help.
What did you have for breakfast today?
Just a strong espresso. I'm about to pack my parachute and go hiking up a mountain to jump so I need some energy, but don't want to feel heavy.
What scares you?
Cancer or bad sickness and the extinction of some animal species. Also love because it doesn't let me focus on my work.
Photography by Jeb Corliss