While thousands of people put their safety belt on to ride the newest theme park roller coaster, people like Carlos Briceno, of DeLand, are going to new heights to get their adrenaline rush.
Briceno traded in his desk job as a cost controller for an oil company nearly 10 years ago to become a professional sky diver and BASE jumper.
“I always wanted to feel what you feel when you fly,” he said.
The Venezuela native travels all over the world training others in the relatively new sport of BASE jumping and skydiving. He also dabbles in wingsuit flying, wearing what he calls “an air mattress that flies,” which closely resembles a flying squirrel.
Briceno has about 9,000 jumps under his belt, and considers himself one of the lucky ones. He’s never broken a bone and only had a few jumps he regrets, like one in 2014 where he got caught in a tarp while trying to land after a BASE jump from the Kuala Lumpur Tower in Malaysia.
“I was pushed by the wind and I got hung up in the light post,” he said, still able to tell the story with a smile.
But he keeps coming back, fueling his admitted addiction, even as he’s seen 30 friends lose their lives by going too close to the edge.
And he’s not alone.
Dr. Patrick Cohn has studied sports psychology for more than 25 years, and has seen how athletes push the boundaries with these kinds of extreme sports.
“It pushes them further into the zone,” Cohn, a mental game coach, said. “You cannot be anxious. You cannot be fearful of dying. You cannot be afraid of crashing otherwise you’re not going to have the focus you need to have.”
But Briceno said he’ll keep doing what he loves as long as he can.
“It’s sad they are not with me for sure but I feel good that I’m stepping up for them,” he said of the friends he has lost to extreme sports. “I wouldn’t wish my friends stop because I die. I would like my friends to keep reaching and enjoying their dreams and flying and do it forever.”
Briceno plans to keep pushing the boundaries of what he can do by proving over and over that humans can fly.