Fred Morledge / PhotoFM.com
Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014 | 2 a.m.
The secret to beating a Guinness World Record? For Las Vegan Brad Hess, it was tolerating dizziness.
Hess, who now holds the Guinness record for most forward somersaults in midair in under 60 seconds, spent months perfecting his technique before officially setting the record on Feb. 8. He’d gotten so good at doing the forward flips, he wasn’t even nervous before performing the stunt for an official Guinness submission.
“It was just perseverance, really,” Hess said. “I was literally practicing two or three times a day, and that resulted in doing 200 to 300 flips a day.”
But first, he had to adjust to the unnatural (and often uncomfortable) feeling of spinning in midair, which he equates to “being really drunk and learning to walk straight.” Overcorrecting usually leads to chaos, he explained.
Hess, general manager at Vegas Indoor Skydiving, had an audience of family and co-workers when he did 53 flips inside a wind tunnel in less than a minute, topping the documented record by 16 full somersaults. A camera crew documented the effort. Hess submitted his entry for the title to Guinness' London headquarters and was formally presented with bragging rights on Feb. 14. The record has even been posted on the Guinness World Record website.
Hess took his first simulated jump as a customer at Vegas Indoor Skydiving in 2003 while he was attending UNLV, where he studied social sciences. He liked the experience so much he asked for a job. The former skydiving instructor has since worked his way up the ranks at the locally owned facility.
Like skateboarding or skiing, “flying” on a wind tunnel allows for individual style, Hess said. His is smooth, fluid and conducive to flips. When co-workers noticed how easy the somersaults came to him, they encouraged him to go for a record.
"We were so stoked," co-worker Kristine Reynolds said. "We're very proud of this guy."
Vegas Indoor Skydiving uses a wind tunnel to simulate the feel of diving off an airplane. The tunnel produces enough air pressure to support the weight of an average adult. Participants take a brief class and suit up with flight gear before jumping into the tunnel, a process that takes about an hour.
Hess said the sensation was similar to skydiving but with a reduced adrenaline jolt.
“When you have a dream that you’re flying,” Hess said, “this is it.”