BASE jumping ( // ) is the recreational sport of jumping from fixed objects, using a parachute to descend safely to the ground. "BASE" is an acronym that stands for four categories of fixed objects from which one can jump: buildings, antennæ (referring to radio masts), spans (bridges), and earth (cliffs). Participants exit from a fixed object such as a cliff, and after an optional freefall delay, deploy a parachute to slow their descent and land. A popular form of BASE jumping is wingsuit BASE jumping.
In contrast to other forms of parachuting, such as skydiving from airplanes, BASE jumps are performed from fixed objects which are generally at much lower altitudes, and BASE jumpers only carry one parachute. BASE jumping is significantly more hazardous than other forms of parachuting, and is widely considered to be one of the most dangerous extreme sports.
Fausto Veranzio is widely believed to have been the first person to build and test a parachute,by jumping from St Mark's Campanile in Venice in 1617 when he was over 65 years old. However, these and other sporadic incidents were one-time experiments, not the actual systematic pursuit of a new form of parachuting.
There are precursors to the sport dating back hundreds of years. In 1966, Michael Pelkey and Brian Schubert jumped from El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.The acronym "B.A.S.E." (now more commonly "BASE") was later coined by filmmaker Carl Boenish, his wife Jean Boenish, Phil Smith, and Phil Mayfield. Carl Boenish was an important catalyst behind modern BASE jumping, and in 1978 he filmed jumps from El Capitan, made using ram-air parachutes and the freefall tracking technique. While BASE jumps had been made prior to that time, the El Capitan activity was the effective birth of what is now called BASE jumping.
After 1978, the filmed jumps from El Capitan were repeated, not as an actual publicity exercise or as a movie stunt, but as a true recreational activity. It was this that popularized BASE jumping more widely among parachutists.[ citation needed ] Carl Boenish continued to publish films and informational magazines on BASE jumping until his death in 1984 after a BASE jump off the Troll Wall. By this time, the concept had spread among skydivers worldwide, with hundreds of participants making fixed-object jumps.
During the early eighties, nearly all BASE jumps were made using standard skydiving equipment, including two parachutes (main and reserve), and deployment components. Later on, specialized equipment and techniques were developed specifically for the unique needs of BASE jumping.
BASE numbers are awarded to those who have made at least one jump from each of the four categories (buildings, antennas, spans and earth). When Phil Smith and Phil Mayfield jumped together from a Houston skyscraper on 18 January 1981, they became the first to attain the exclusive BASE numbers (BASE #1 and #2, respectively), having already jumped from an antenna, spans, and earthen objects. Jean and Carl Boenish qualified for BASE numbers 3 and 4 soon after. A separate "award" was soon enacted for Night BASE jumping when Mayfield completed each category at night, becoming Night BASE #1, with Smith qualifying a few weeks later.
Upon completing a jump from all of the four object categories, a jumper may choose to apply for a "BASE number", awarded sequentially. As of May 2017 [update] , over 2,000 BASE numbers have been issued.The 1000th application for a BASE number was filed in March 2005 and BASE #1000 was awarded to Matt "Harley" Moilanen of Grand Rapids, Michigan.
In the early days of BASE jumping, people used modified skydiving gear, such as by removing the deployment bag and slider, stowing the lines in a tail pocket, and fitting a large pilot chute. However, modified skydiving gear is then prone to kinds of malfunction that are rare in normal skydiving (such as "line-overs" and broken lines). Modern purpose-built BASE jumping equipment is considered to be much safer and more reliable.
The biggest difference in gear is that skydivers jump with both a main and a reserve parachute, while BASE jumpers carry only one parachute. BASE jumping parachutes are larger than skydiving parachutes and are typically flown with a wing loading of around 3.4 kg/m2 (0.7 lb/sq ft). Vents are one element that make a parachute suitable for BASE jumping. BASE jumpers often use extra large pilot chutes to compensate for lower airspeed parachute deployments. On jumps from lower altitudes, the slider is removed for faster parachute opening.
BASE jumpers use a single-parachute harness and container system. Since there is only a single parachute, BASE jumping containers are mechanically much simpler than skydiving containers. This simplicity contributes to the safety and reliability of BASE jumping gear by eliminating many malfunctions that can occur with more complicated skydiving equipment. Since there is no reserve parachute, there is little need to cut-away their parachute, many BASE harnesses do not contain a 3-ring release system. A modern ultralight BASE system including parachute, container, and harness can weigh as little as 3.9 kilograms (8.6 lb).
When jumping from high mountains, BASE jumpers will often use special clothing to improve control and flight characteristics in the air. Wingsuit flying has become a popular form of BASE jumping in recent years, that allows jumpers to glide over long horizontal distances. Tracking suits inflate like wingsuits to give additional lift to jumpers, but maintain separation of arms and legs to allow for greater mobility and safety.
BASE jumps can be broadly classified into low jumps and high jumps. The primary distinguishing characteristic of low BASE jumps versus high BASE jumps is the use of a slider reefing device to control the opening speed of the parachute, and whether the jumper falls long enough to reach terminal velocity.
Low BASE jumps are those where the jumper does not reach terminal velocity. Sometimes referred to as "slider down" jumps because they are typically performed without a slider reefing device on the parachute. The lack of a slider enables the parachute to open more quickly. Other techniques for low BASE jumps include the use of a static line, direct bag, or PCA (pilot chute assist). These devices form an attachment between the parachute and the jump platform, which stretches out the parachute and suspension lines as the jumper falls, before separating and allowing the parachute to inflate. This enables the very lowest jumps—below 60 metres (200 ft) to be made. It is common in the UK to jump from around the 50 metres (150 ft) mark, due to the number of low cliffs at this height. Basejumpers have been known to jump from objects as low as 30 metres (100 ft), which leaves little to no canopy time and requires an immediate flare to land safely.
Many BASE jumpers are motivated to make jumps from higher objects involving free fall. High BASE jumps are those which are high enough for the jumper to reach terminal velocity. High BASE jumps are often called "slider up" jumps due to the use of a slider reefing device. High BASE jumps present different hazards than low BASE jumps. With greater height and airspeed, jumpers can fly away from the cliff during freefall, allowing them to deploy their parachute far away from the cliff they jumped from and significantly reduce the chance of object striking. However, high BASE jumps also present new hazards such as complications resulting from the use of a wingsuit.
Tandem BASE jumping is when a skilled pilot jumps with a passenger attached to their front. It is similar to skydiving and is offered in the US. Tandem BASE is becoming a more accessible and legal form of BASE jumping.
On May 23, 2006, Australians Glenn Singleman and Heather Swan made a BASE jump from an altitude of 6,604 metres (21,667 ft) off Mount Meru in Northern India. They jumped in wingsuits.
On May 5, 2013, Russian Valery Rozov jumped off Changtse (the northern peak of the Mount Everest massif) from a height of 7,220 metres (23,690 ft). Using a specially-developed Red Bull wingsuit, he glided down to the Rongbuk glacier more than 1,000 meters below, setting a new world record for highest altitude base jump. He had previously jumped off mountains in Asia, Antarctica and South America in 2004, 2007, 2008, 2010 and 2012.
On October 5, 2016, Rozov broke his own record for highest altitude BASE jump when he leapt from a height of 7,700 metres (25,300 ft) from Cho Oyu, the sixth-highest mountain in the world, landing on a glacier approximately two minutes later at an altitude of around 6,000 metres (20,000 ft). He later died while attempting another high-altitude BASE jump in Nepal in 2017.
BASE competitions have been held since the early 1980s, with accurate landings or free-fall aerobatics used as the judging criteria. Recent years have seen a formal competition held at the 452 metres (1,483 ft) high Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, judged on landing accuracy. In 2012 the World Wingsuit League held their first wingsuit BASE jumping competition in China.
BASE jumps are typically performed from much lower altitudes than in skydiving. Skydivers are required to deploy their main parachute above 2,000 feet (610 m) altitude. BASE jumps are frequently made from less than 486 feet (148 m). A BASE jump from a 486 feet (148 m) object is only about 5.6 seconds from the ground if the jumper remains in free fall. Standard skydiving parachute systems are not designed for this situation, so BASE jumpers use specially designed harnesses and parachute systems.
Many BASE jumps, particularly in the UK are made from around 150ft due to the number of low cliffs at this height. Jumpers will use a static line method to ensure their canopy is extracted as they jump, as at this height, it is too low to freefall.
BASE jumps generally entail slower airspeeds than typical skydives (due to the limited altitude), a BASE jumper does not always reach terminal velocity. Skydivers use the airflow to stabilize their position. BASE jumpers, falling at lower speeds, have less aerodynamic control. The attitude of the body at the moment of jumping determines the stability of flight in the first few seconds, before sufficient airspeed has built up to enable aerodynamic stability. On low BASE jumps, parachute deployment takes place during this early phase of flight. If the parachute is deployed while the jumper is unstable, there is a high risk of entanglement or malfunction. The jumper may also not be facing the right direction. Such an off-heading opening is not as problematic in skydiving, but an off-heading opening that results in object strike has caused many serious injuries and deaths in BASE jumping.
BASE jumps are more hazardous than skydives primarily due to proximity to the object serving as the jump platform. BASE jumping frequently occurs in mountainous terrain, often having much smaller areas in which to land in comparison to a typical skydiving dropzone. BASE jumping is significantly more dangerous than similar sports such as skydiving from aircraft.
BASE jumping is generally not illegal in most places. However, in some cases such as building and antenna jumps, jumping is often done covertly without the permission of owners, which can lead to charges such as trespassing. In some jurisdictions it may be permissible to use land until specifically told not to. The Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho, is an example of a man-made structure in the United States where BASE jumping is allowed year-round without a permit.
In U.S. National Parks, BASE jumping is generally prohibited, unless special permission is given. Other U.S. public land, including land controlled by the Bureau of Land Management, does not ban air delivery, and there are numerous jumpable objects on BLM land.
The legal position is different at other sites and in other countries. For example, in Norway's Lysefjord (from the mountain Kjerag), BASE jumpers are made welcome. Many sites in the European Alps, near Chamonix and on the Eiger, are also open to jumpers. Some other Norwegian places, like the Troll Wall, are banned because of dangerous rescue missions in the past. In Austria, jumping from mountain cliffs is generally allowed, whereas the use of bridges (such as the Europabruecke near Innsbruck, Tirol) or dams is generally prohibited. Australia has some of the toughest stances on BASE jumping: it specifically bans BASE jumping from certain objects, such as the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
The National Park Service has banned BASE jumping in U.S. National Parks. The authority comes from 36 CFR 2.17(3), which prohibits, "Delivering or retrieving a person or object by parachute, helicopter, or other airborne means, except in emergencies involving public safety or serious property loss, or pursuant to the terms and conditions of a permit." Under that Regulation, BASE is not banned, but is allowable if a permit is issued by the Superintendent. The 2001 National Park Service Management Policies state that BASE "is not an appropriate public use activity within national park areas ..." (2001 Management Policy 188.8.131.52.) However, Policy 184.108.40.206 in the 2006 volume of National Park Service Management Policies, which superseded the 2001 edition, states "Parachuting (or BASE jumping), whether from an aircraft, structure, or natural feature, is generally prohibited by 36 CFR 2.17(a)(3). However, if determined through a park planning process to be an appropriate activity, it may be allowed pursuant to the terms and conditions of a permit."
Once a year, on the third Saturday in October ("Bridge Day"), permission to BASE jump has explicitly been granted at the New River Gorge Bridge in Fayetteville, West Virginia. The New River Gorge Bridge deck is 876 feet (267 m) above the river. This annual event attracts about 450 BASE jumpers and nearly 200,000 spectators.1,100 jumps may occur during the six hours that it is legal, providing conditions are suitable.
During the early days of BASE jumping, the NPS issued permits that authorized jumps from El Capitan. This program ran for three months in 1980 and then collapsed amid allegations of abuse by unauthorized jumpers. The NPS has since vigorously enforced the ban, charging jumpers with "aerial delivery into a National Park". One jumper drowned in the Merced River while evading arresting park rangers, having declared "No way are they gonna get me. Let them chase me—I'll just laugh in their faces and jump in the river".Despite incidents like this one, illegal jumps continue in Yosemite at a rate estimated at a few hundred per year, often at night or dawn. El Capitan, Half Dome, and Glacier Point have been used as jump sites.
A study of BASE jumping fatalities estimated that the overall annual fatality risk in 2002 was one fatality per 60 participants.A study of 20,850 BASE jumps from the Kjerag Massif in Norway reported nine fatalities over the 11-year period from 1995 to 2005, or one in every 2,317 jumps. However, at that site, one in every 254 jumps over that period resulted in a nonfatal accident. BASE jumping is one of the most dangerous recreational activities in the world, with a fatality and injury rate 43 times higher than that of parachuting from a plane.
As of 4 January 2023 [update] , the BASE Fatality List records 444 deaths for BASE jumping since April 1981.
Bungee jumping, also spelled bungy jumping, is an activity that involves a person jumping from a great height while connected to a large elastic cord. The launching pad is usually erected on a tall structure such as a building or crane, a bridge across a deep ravine, or on a natural geographic feature such as a cliff. It is also possible to jump from a type of aircraft that has the ability to hover above the ground, such as a hot-air-balloon or helicopter. The thrill comes from the free-falling and the rebound. When the person jumps, the cord stretches and the jumper flies upwards again as the cord recoils, and continues to oscillate up and down until all the kinetic energy is dissipated.
A parachute is a device used to slow the motion of an object through an atmosphere by creating drag or, in a ram-air parachute, aerodynamic lift. A major application is to support people, for recreation or as a safety device for aviators, who can exit from an aircraft at height and descend safely to earth.
Wingsuit flying is the sport of skydiving using a webbing-sleeved jumpsuit called a wingsuit to add webbed area to the diver's body and generate increased lift, which allows extended air time by gliding flight rather than just free falling. The modern wingsuit, first developed in the late 1990s, uses a pair of fabric membranes stretched flat between the arms and flanks/thighs to imitate an airfoil, and often also between the legs to function as a tail and allow some aerial steering.
Carl Ronald Boenish, considered the father of modern BASE jumping, was an American freefall cinematographer, who in 1978 filmed the first jumps from El Capitan using ram-air parachutes.
Tandem skydiving or tandem parachuting refers to a type of skydiving where a student skydiver is connected to an instructor via a harness. The instructor guides the student through the whole jump from exit through freefall, piloting the canopy, and landing. The student needs only minimal instruction before making a tandem jump with the instructor. In the United States most skydiving centers and clubs require that you be 18 years or older to skydive whereas in other countries the minimum age can be lower or higher. This is one of three commonly used training methods for beginning skydivers; the others being Static line, Instructor-assisted deployment (IAD), and Accelerated freefall (AFF) (k).
Michael Pelkey is considered one of the first individuals to influence the mass practice of BASE jumping as a sport, together with fellow skydiver Brian Schubert. Pelkey and Schubert's first jump was made on July 24th 1966, from the summit of El Capitan mountain. Pelkey made his second jump on October 15th 2005 at the 26th annual Bridge Day event where he and Shubert were attending as guest speakers. Pelkey's planned third jump at the 27th annual Bridge Day in 2006 was unperformed due to the death of Schubert, from a parachute malfunction, moments before Pelkey's jump.
Felix Baumgartner is an Austrian skydiver, daredevil and BASE jumper. He is widely known for jumping to Earth from a helium balloon from the stratosphere on 14 October 2012 and landing in New Mexico, United States, as part of the Red Bull Stratos project. Doing so, he set world records for skydiving an estimated 39 km (24 mi), reaching an estimated top speed of 1,357.64 km/h (843.6 mph), or Mach 1.25. He became the first person to break the sound barrier relative to the surface without vehicular power on his descent. He broke skydiving records for exit altitude, vertical freefall distance without a drogue parachute, and vertical speed without a drogue. Though he still holds the two latter records, the first was broken two years later, when on 24 October 2014, Alan Eustace jumped from 135,890 feet—or, 41.42 km (25.74 mi) with a drogue.
Bridge Day is an annual one-day festival in Fayetteville, Fayette County, West Virginia, United States The event is coordinated by the New River Gorge Bridge Day Commission, and is sponsored by numerous companies of both local and international significance. The event, held on the third Saturday every October, commemorates the 1977 completion of the New River Gorge Bridge. On this day, all four lanes of the bridge are closed to automobiles and opened to pedestrians. Estimates have 100,000 people attending the overall event.
Skydive Hibaldstow is a parachuting centre and skydiving drop zone at Hibaldstow, in North Lincolnshire, England, affiliated with the skydiving company British Skydiving.
Parachuting, including also skydiving, is a method of transiting from a high point in the atmosphere to the surface of Earth with the aid of gravity, involving the control of speed during the descent using a parachute or parachutes.
Ueli Gegenschatz was a Swiss BASE jumper, paraglider and skydiver who held several world records.
Roberta Mancino is an Italian skydiver, BASE jumper, wingsuit flyer and international model. She has participated in more than 12,500 skydives and won several awards and world records. She has gone on four skydives while completely naked, and on five occasions her parachute did not open in mid-jump. In 2010, Mancino was named the World's Sexiest Female Athlete by the magazine Men's Fitness.
Dwain Weston was an Australian skydiver, BASE jumper and wingsuiter. On 5 October 2003, at the end of the inaugural Go Fast Games, Weston was killed while attempting to fly over the Royal Gorge Bridge near Cañon City, Colorado, United States.
Gary Connery is a British skydiver, BASE jumper, and professional stuntman. Connery has performed stunt-work in numerous films. He has also acted as the stunt-double for Gary Oldman, Leonardo DiCaprio, Rowan Atkinson, and John Hurt. He is acknowledged as the first skydiver to land after a wingsuit jump without using a parachute. He made his first parachute jump at age 23, as part of his army training.
Skydive Empuriabrava is the brand that has been commercially operating Empuriabrava Aerodrome since 1985. Since it began operating its main activity has been skydiving although it also offers photo flights, aerial and tourist advertising, and runs a school of aviation for private pilots.
Luke Aikins is an American professional skydiver, BASE jumper, pilot, and aerial photographer. He is the first person to intentionally dive from mid-tropospheric altitude and land safely without a parachute or a wingsuit and the second skydiver to intentionally jump and safely land without using a parachute.
Jeff "Jeffro" Provenzano is an American professional skydiver, wingsuit flyer, BASE jumper, HALO jumper and stuntman. He is a member of the Red Bull Air Force, and is considered to be a pioneer of the skydiving discipline of swooping.
Ski-BASE jumping is the recreational sport of skiing at a high speed off of a cliff or mountain and free-falling through the air, using a parachute to descend to the ground, therefore combining the two sports of skiing and BASE jumping. Participants often perform tricks or manoeuvres during the freefall and remove their skis mid-air in order to safely deploy the parachute and land.
Vincent Reffet was a French BASE jumper, skydiver, wingsuit flyer, and jetman.
Quoting from: Gillespie, Angus K. "Twin Towers: the Life of New York City's World Trade Center." Rutgers University Press, 1999