Wingsuit champion from Willenhall died by 'misadventure' in tragic flying accident

A wingsuit champion who grew up in Willenhall died by misadventure in a flying accident in Saudi Arabia, a coroner has ruled.

Angelo Grubisic died in an accident (Image: Born to Engineer /Youtube)
Angelo Grubisic died in an accident (Image: Born to Engineer /Youtube)

Astronautical engineer Dr Angelo Grubisic, 38, died while taking part in a planned jump in the Middle East in August 2019, an inquest in Oldbury heard yesterday.

The talented scientist worked in Southampton but grew up in Willenhall, and attended Willenhall Comprehensive School, now known as Willenhall E-Act Academy, as a teenager.

Angelo had led a wingsuit design team at the University of Southampton where he lectured in astronautics and advanced propulsion.

He had previously worked on spacecraft propulsion for the European Space Agency and NASA – and in 2015 he set up the ‘Icarus Project’ which sought to design a world-record breaking wingsuit while improving safety.

Angelo Grubisic died in Saudi Arabia. Pic: Facebook

Speaking at his inquest, Angelo's mother Anita described him as "kind, down to earth and honest".

She told the inquest: "Angelo was very enthusiastic about what he did.

"As far as lecturing, his students loved him.

"He lived to teach other people. He was just an inspiration to everyone. He touched the hearts of many."

Angelo Grubisic flying in a wingsuit. Pic: Facebook

She said he went around the world giving lectures and loved getting children interested in science and physics.

Anita told the inquest he was very experienced in wingsuiting and wanted to make it a safer sport.

But during a flight, she said he would always make sure there was an "escape route".

She added: "I can see he was flying well and at low proximity.

"At the end I really don't know what happened." The inquest heard how he had jumped from a helicopter but it had ended with him crashing and he suffered 'traumatic injuries'.

Senior coroner Zafar Siddique said Angelo had experienced a relationship breakdown but there was no evidence to suggest he had intended to harm himself.

Reaching a conclusion of death by misadventure, Mr Siddique said: "He didn't intend to have this incident. "He appears to have been in control, but for whatever reason he's misjudged the height of that ridge."

He said Angelo hadn't had time to adjust and it was a 'tragic loss'.

Speaking afterwards, Anita said she agreed with the coroner's conclusion.

She said the family were also hoping to start a charity in his memory to help those from underprivileged backgrounds towards careers in science and engineering and had launched the Dr Angelo Grubisic Young Engineers Fund.

Those who would like to donate can contact Angelo's sister Karina by email at karina1@gmail.com

Angelo had also hoped to attempt a world record for the highest, longest, furthest flight and highest speed travelled in a wingsuit and was planning to jump from the Earth's stratosphere.

"I mentioned to the Dean at the University of Southampton we are trying to do everything we can to carry on Angelo's legacy," Anita added.

"I suggested perhaps some type of mechanism that could warn wingsuiters of their altitude. He said it was worth a project in the future."

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