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Pennsylvania native strives to fly from world`s wonders

Last Updated: Saturday, May 25, 2013 - 21:15

Pittsburgh: Jon Potter didn`t need to be asked twice. When a guard pointed to the top of the Bent Pyramid, Potter quickly climbed up through cracks in its limestone face.

The 22-year-old Lawrenceville native carried the equipment of a small fabric-winged speedflyer to the peak of Pharaoh Snefru`s pyramid, built in 2600 BC.

Speedflying, in Potter`s words, is "the extreme little brother of paragliding." He traveled to Egypt to attempt flying from the 480-foot-tall Great Pyramid of Giza. His attempt at the Bent Pyramid, older but shorter at 345 feet, came about because, well, he loves to fly, anytime, anywhere.

Fresh from a flight at the ancient site of Petra in Jordan, he hopes to become the first person to speedfly from all Seven Wonders of the Modern World.

Potter started skydiving at 19. Hours after a tough break-up with a girlfriend, he "took a first-time jump, and I fell in love with it, and I have been flying pretty much every day since."

Since most jumps are done illegally, he has learned to evade police. "My motto is, `It`s better to ask for forgiveness than permission,` " he said.

He has been arrested about 30 times, he said, and jailed twice. One of those times was for trying to fly from a Croatian power station.

His first flight from one of the Seven Wonders was at Peru`s Machu Picchu. "I flew and landed on an island, went right into the jungle and hid for a couple of hours," he said. Afterward, he and friends "hiked out in the middle of the night in a rainstorm to bypass security."

Potter owns Pittsburgh Paragliding and teaches when he isn`t leaping off the world`s tall buildings.
He started his daredevil hobby "with skydiving, then base jumping, and then speedflying and paragliding." He documents his flights with small video cameras attached to his helmet and one foot and has broken numerous bones.

He said he hopes to jump next from China`s Great Wall and India`s Taj Mahal, which he thinks will require official permission or "some serious bribe money."
He has his eye on Brazil`s Christ the Redeemer statue, Mexico`s Chichen Itza pyramid and Rome`s Colosseum.
Great Pyramid would be "the icing on the cake," he said, but Egyptian authorities denied permission to jump.


First Published: Saturday, May 25, 2013 - 21:15

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