"Transformers: Dark of the Moon" has "Birdmen"

Children often grow up dreaming that, one day, they'll be able to fly. JT Holmes was one of those kids, and he's come about as close as anyone on the planet. He and his so-called "birdmen" crew use special suits that enable them to soar off peaks and through valleys across the globe. But nothing could have quite prepared him for his most death-defying jump so far, when producers of the new "Transformers" movie came calling.

At first glance, the birdmen soaring through the Chicago skyline seem like computer-generated creations, "Early Show" co-anchor Chris Wragge reported. But what they do is very real. Holmes and his daredevils plunge from the relative safety of the Willis Tower roof, 1,400 feet above the street, to take flight in the Windy City.

Rob Bruce, director of photography for the film, told CBS News, "These are actual people flying wing suits in a downtown city environment, which has never been done before."

For his new film, "Transformers: Dark of the Moon," director Michael Bay tapped extreme sports athlete Holmes and his crew of high-flying birdmen to give moviegoers a spellbinding look at this type of base-jumping. Bay discovered the team, according to Holmes, from a "60 Minutes report.

Holmes said, "(Bay) saw Julian and I flying around mountains in Norway. He called Spielberg and was like, 'I gotta have wingsuits in 'Transformers 3.'"

"60 Minutes": Taking Flight With The Birdmen

In 2009, "60 Minutes" Correspondent Steve Kroft and his crew visited Norway to profile Holmes, Julian Boulle and others over the course of 15 jumps.

In that report, Kroft asked, "You feel like you're flying?"

Holmes replied, "Well, I am flying. So, yes, I do, very much, feel like I'm flying."

"Like a bird?" Kroft offered.

Holmes replied, "Yeah. Just like a bird, a bird that can't flap his wings and go up. The birds probably laugh at us."

To defy gravity, these high-fliers wear specially designed nylon suits. When they jump, air inflates membranes in the wings, creating enough lift to propel a flyer forward at speeds of up to 140 miles per hour.

Holmes explained in the "60 Minutes" report, "The speed actually increases your stability, and it increases your safety margin because, with the speed that we're flying with, you can create lift. And you know you can pop up and fly away at any time."

Holmes has completed thousands of jumps across four continents.

He says the rush hits him when he looks over the edge of a new jump.

"You`re like, 'Whoa, cool. This is an amazing spot to fly.'"

But the challenges presented by the "Transformers" producers were unprecedented.

"Transformers" producer Lorenzo Di Bonaventura said of the jump, "They had a real challenge to this thing which they had never really (done) -- flown in formation. So they had to learn how to fly in tandem, as opposed to solo, which is what they'd always done."

Holmes said, "Yeah, we do tons of flying. We fly mountains, though. This is like nothing else. This is pretty advanced skill-level stuff."

After 45 days of training for the stunt, Holmes and the birdmen took their plunge into motion picture history.

Holmes said, "When you see stuff and you say, 'Holy cow, that did just happen,' somebody like me just went out there and did something rad for a camera all because he wants it to be real."

On "The Early Show," Holmes said the "Transformers" gig was "the job of a lifetime."

"To fly in a city like that was incredible," he said.

Holmes said his crew trained on a mountain in Switzerland about the same size as the skyscrapers in Chicago and just "jumped and jumped and jumped" until they got it right -- and synchronized.

Co-anchor Chris Wragge remarked, "You take chances in your life, and for most, I think most people sitting here watching this, are like, 'This guy is crazy, these bird men are nuts,' but when Michael Bay, who is a little nuts in his own right, when he gives you this, 'OK, this is what we have in mind, this is what we want to do,' was there ever a moment in your life, when you said, 'Wait a second, this is even a little much for us'?"

Holmes said, "There was that moment. We actually - we had this one spot we nicknamed it 'Suicide Corner.' And it was really perfect for the shot. And it was incredibly intimidating. But when we were scouting we were up there and it was sunny, it just felt right."

Holmes added, "We are terrified up there. But you know, you just have to dissect the jump and think about what's bothering you."

Wragge asked if the flier is ever afraid he'll push his tricks too far.

Holmes answered, "Not really."

When asked what he'd like to do next, Holmes said, "I'd love to go jump something massive in the Himalayas."