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Meet the skydiver who flew in a wingsuit past the castle which inspired Walt Disney

By Martynas Ruseckas, CNN

(CNN) — An inspiration for Walt Disney’s imagination for the Sleeping Beauty castle, Germany’s Neuschwanstein Castle is a go-to tourist destination for around 1.4 million people per year.

But for professional skydiver Max Manow, it’s a landmark that has been ever-present in his life since childhood and a sight he remembers fondly growing up.

However, in September, Manow’s two worlds collided as the 34-year-old became the first person to detach from a paraglider mid-air and fly past Neuschwanstein Castle wearing just a wingsuit.

The German performed a 328-foot free fall before whistling by the castle, reaching a top speed of 124 mph.

“I realized a personal dream for myself,” Manow told CNN Sport. “I grew up 45 minutes away from the castle, it was also the location I saw paragliding for the very first time, so it’s very special to do this project.

“I joked about it many times, ‘Hey, how about you take a paraglider and fly to the right spot and then you just release and start the wingsuit?’ And then it finally just came together.”

‘A little bit of inventing’

It was a special flight for Manow and required a different preparation than usual – as he was not a paragliding pilot at the start of this year, he had to learn the basics of controlling the glider from scratch.

As well as taking various practice flights, the skydiver also built a special paragliding harness into his wingsuit to safely release himself.

“It was a little bit of inventing and trying to figure out what works and what doesn’t,” Manow revealed.

“I wanted to make sure that the paraglider lands safely away from any spectators, so I did some testing and figured out how much it would drift.

“This location is not the easiest location: it’s not very high where I dropped from, but as soon as the paraglider started, as soon as I took off, everything started happening and I just did what I imagined in my head many, many times.”

‘It was all math’

Manow said he was “fascinated” when he took his first skydive when he was just 14.

Even though the German says he has more than 10,000 flights of experience, he acknowledged that nerves still had an impact prior to his latest feat.

“We had lunch just before I did the flight and I felt a bit sick – I realized my heart has been racing for the whole day,” Manow admitted. “I’m just standing on the take off and I thought, ‘Man, this is it.’

“It was realizing how amazing this location is, but on the other hand, it was all math: ‘Am I on the right spot? Am I going to get there on time? Do I have enough altitude to do the drop? At what point am I going to release the paraglider?’”

Manow told CNN that there are already talks about other intriguing ventures, but as of now, he wants to let it all sink in.

“Honestly, I still haven’t realized what happened,” he said. “Right now, I’m just happy I finished this project.

“From pitching the idea to realizing the project with all the work in between means a lot to me and, to this date, it’s the most memorable project jump that I’ve ever done.”

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