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Encyclopedia > BASE jumping

BASE jumping is a sport involving the use of a parachute to jump from fixed objects. "BASE" is an acronym that stands for the four categories of fixed objects from which one can jump: This article is about the device. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Backronym and Apronym (Discuss) Acronyms and initialisms are abbreviations, such as NATO, laser, and ABC, written as the initial letter or letters of words, and pronounced on the basis of this abbreviated written form. ...

  • Building
  • Antenna (an uninhabited tower such as an aerial mast)
  • Span (a bridge or arch)
  • Earth (a cliff or other natural formation)

The acronym "BASE" was coined by film-maker Carl Boenish, his wife Jean Boenish, Phil Smith, and Phil Mayfield. Carl was the real catalyst behind modern BASE jumping, and in 1978 filmed the first BASE jumps (from El Capitan, in Yosemite National Park] to be 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 we now call BASE jumping. BASE jumping is significantly more dangerous than similar sports such as skydiving from aircraft, and is currently regarded by many as a fringe "extreme" sport or stunt.

When Phil Smith and Phil Mayfield jumped together from a Houston skyscraper on January 18th, 1981, they became the first to attain the exclusive BASE numbers (BASE #1 and #2, respectively), having already jumped from Antennae, Spans, and Earthen objects. Jean and Carl Boenish qualified for BASE numbers 3 and 4 soon after. BASE numbers are awarded to those who have made at least one jump from each of the four categories. 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.

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 that were designed specifically for the unique needs of BASE jumping.



There are isolated examples of BASE jumps dating from the late 1700s.

  • In 1783, Louis-Sébastien Lenormand made the first parachute jump from the tower of the Montpellier observatory, preceding the jump from a balloon by Garnerin.
  • In 1912 Frederick Law jumped from the Statue of Liberty
  • In 1913 Štefan Banič jumped from a building in order to demonstrate his new parachute to the U. S. Patent Office and military
  • In 1913 a Russian student Vladimir Ossovski (Владимир Оссовский), from the Saint-Petersburg Conservatory, jumped from the 53-meter high bridge over the river Seine in Rouen (France), using the parachute RK-1, invented a year before that by Gleb Kotelnikov (1872-1944). Ossovski planned jumping from the Eiffel tower too, but the mayor of Paris didn’t allow that. (Information from the Russian edition of GEO magazine, issue 11, November 2006, GEO).
  • In 1966 Michael Pelkey and Brian Schubert jumped from the cliff "El Capitan" in Yosemite Valley
  • On 9 November 1975, the first person to parachute off the CN Tower in Toronto, Canada, was a member of the construction crew, Bill Eustace. He was fired.
  • In 1975, Owen J. Quinn, a jobless man, parachuted from the south tower of the World Trade Center to publicize the plight of the unemployed.
  • In 1976 Rick Sylvester skied off Canada's Mount Asgard for the opening sequence of the James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me, giving the wider world its first look at BASE jumping;

However, these and other sporadic incidents were one-time experiments, not the systematic pursuit of a new form of parachuting. After 1978, the filmed jumps from El Capitan were repeated, not as a publicity exercise or as a movie stunt, but as a true recreational activity. It was this that popularised BASE jumping more widely among parachutists. Carl Boenish continued to publish films and informational magazines on BASE jumping until his 1984 death on a cliff jump in Norway. By this time, the concept had spread among skydivers worldwide, with hundreds of participants making fixed-object jumps. Lenormand jumps from the tower of the Montpellier observatory, 1783. ... Montpellier (Occitan Montpelhièr) is a city in the south of France. ... Balloons, like greeting cards or flowers, are given for special occasions. ... 1797-1798 depiction of Garnerin conducting a voyage aërien with Citoyenne Henri Andre-Jacques Garnerin (January 31, 1769 - August 18, 1823) was the inventor of the parachute. ... Liberty Enlightening the World (French: La liberté éclairant le monde), known more commonly as the Statue of Liberty (Statue de la Liberté), is a large statue that was presented to the United States by France in 1886. ... A monument erected to Å tefan Banič in Slovakia. ... This article is about the device. ... The United States Patent and Trademark Office (PTO or USPTO) is an agency in the United States Department of Commerce that provides patent and trademark protection to inventors and businesses for their inventions and corporate and product identification. ... Gleb Yevgeniyevich Kotelnikov (Котельников, Глеб Евгеньевич in Russian)(1. ... Magazine logo. ... Please wikify (format) this article or section as suggested in the Guide to layout and the Manual of Style. ... Please wikify (format) this article or section as suggested in the Guide to layout and the Manual of Style. ... El Capitan is a 3,000-foot (1000m) vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, located on the north side of Yosemite Valley, near its western end. ... Yosemite Valley with Half Dome in the distance. ... Owen J. Quinn was born in the Bronx, New York, in 1941. ... “WTC” redirects here. ... Rick Sylvester is a Hollywood stuntman, most fameous for his BASE jumping using skis and parachute off of Canadas Mt Asgard for the James Bond movie The Spy Who Loved Me in 1977. ...

Comparison with skydiving

BASE jumping grew out of skydiving. BASE jumps are generally made from much lower altitudes than skydives, and a BASE jump takes place in close proximity to the object serving as the jump platform. Because BASE jumps generally entail slower airspeeds than typical skydives, because of the limited altitude, a BASE jumper rarely achieves terminal velocity (that speed achieved after twelve seconds of acceleration). Because higher airspeeds enable jumpers more aerodynamic control of their bodies, as well as more positive and quick parachute openings, the longer the delay, the better.

Skydivers use the air flow to stabilise their position, allowing the parachute to deploy cleanly. BASE jumpers, falling at lower speeds, have less aerodynamic control, and may tumble. 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, so if a poor "exit" leads into a tumble, the jumper may not be able to correct this before the opening. If the parachute is deployed while the jumper is tumbling, 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 a problem in skydiving, but off-heading opening that results in object strike has caused serious injuries and deaths in BASE jumping.

An experienced skydiver is recommended to deploy his/her parachute no lower than 2,000 feet. At that altitude, having been in free-fall for at least 1,000 feet (300 meters), the jumper is falling at approximately 120 miles per hour (54 meters per second), and is approximately 11 seconds from the ground. Most BASE jumps are made from less than 2,000 feet (610 m). For example, a BASE jump from a 500 foot (150 meter) object is about 5.6 seconds from the ground if the jumper remains in freefall. On a BASE jump, the parachute must open at about half the airspeed of a similar skydive, and more quickly (in a shorter distance fallen). Standard skydiving parachute systems are not designed for this situation, so BASE jumpers often use specially designed harnesses and parachute containers, with extra large pilot chutes, and many jump with only one parachute, since there would be little time to utilize a reserve parachute.

Standard skydiving equipment is only recommended for relatively high altitude (1,500 ft. or higher) BASE jumps. If modified, by removing the bag and slider, stowing the lines in a tail pocket, and fitting a large pilot chute, standard skydiving gear can be used for lower BASE jumps, but is then prone to kinds of malfunction that are rare in normal skydiving (such as "line-overs" and broken lines).

Another risk is that most BASE jumping venues have very small areas in which to land. A beginner skydiver, after parachute deployment, may have a three minute or more parachute ride to the ground. A BASE jump from 500 feet (152 meters) will have a parachute ride of only 10 to 15 seconds.

One way to make a parachute open very quickly is to use a static line or direct bag. 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 method enables the very lowest jumps (below 200 ft) to be made, although most BASE jumpers are more motivated to make higher jumps involving free fall.

On higher BASE jumps, those which allow a free fall of five seconds or more, it may be necessary to use freefall tracking technique to move away from the jump object (especially on cliff jumps, where there might be underhangs). Jump platforms providing an overhang, such as arch bridges or naturally overhung cliffs, are more forgiving in this respect and so are more suitable for beginner BASE jumpers.

Legal issues

In the United States, skydiving from an airplane involves regulations set by the FAA, notably the requirement of an airplane jumper to carry two parachutes. Since BASE jumping does not involve an airplane, the FAA has no jurisdiction. “FAA” redirects here. ...

New River Gorge Bridge
New River Gorge Bridge

The legal issues that a BASE jumper must consider concern permissions to use the object from which the jump is initiated and the area used for landing. Image File history File links NewRiverBridge_West_virginia. ... Image File history File links NewRiverBridge_West_virginia. ...

Covert BASE jumps are often made from tall buildings and antenna towers. The general reluctance of the owners of these objects to allow their object to be used as a platform leads many BASE jumpers to covertly attempt jumps. While BASE jumping itself is not illegal, the covert nature of accessing objects usually necessitates trespassing on an object. Jumpers who are caught can expect to be charged with trespassing, as well as having other charges like breaking and entering, reckless endangerment, vandalism, or other such charges pressed against them. Other people accompanying the jumper, such as ground crew, may also face charges. See BASE Jumping and the Law.

In some jurisdictions it may be permissible to use land until specifically told not to. Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho is the only manmade structure in the United States where BASE jumping is allowed year-round without a permit. For the bridge in Ulster County, New York, see Perrines Bridge The I. B. Perrine Bridge at Twin Falls, Idaho is a four-lane span carrying U.S. Highway 93 over the Snake River Canyon. ... Motto: People Serving People Nickname: {{{nickname}}} Map Political Statistics Founded 1904 Incorporated 1904 Twin Falls County Mayor Lance W. Clow Geographic Statistics Area  - Total  - Land  - Water 31. ...

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. An object dropped from the deck will hit the water in 8.8 seconds. This annual event attracts about 450 BASE jumpers, and nearly 200,000 spectators. If the conditions are good, in the six hours that it is legal, there may be over 800 jumps. For many skydivers who would like to try BASE jumping, this will be the only fixed object from which they ever jump. On 21 October 2006, veteran BASE jumper Brian Lee Schubert of Alta Loma, California was killed jumping from the New River Gorge Bridge during Bridge Day activities. Apparently, his parachute opened late and he plummeted to his death in the waters below. Jumps continued following the recovery of his body.[1] He and his friend Michael Pelkey were the first to make a BASE jump from El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in 1966. New River Gorge Bridge West Virginia quarter The New River Gorge Bridge is a steel-arch bridge, near Fayetteville, West Virginia; with a length of 3030 feet (924 m), it was for many years the longest in the world of that type. ... Fayetteville is a town located in Fayette County, West Virginia. ... is the 294th day of the year (295th in leap years) in the Gregorian calendar. ... Year 2006 (MMVI) was a common year starting on Sunday of the Gregorian calendar. ... Please wikify (format) this article or section as suggested in the Guide to layout and the Manual of Style. ... Snow-capped San Gabriel Mountains above Alta Loma as seen from Sapphire Street and Thoroughbred Street. ... Please wikify (format) this article or section as suggested in the Guide to layout and the Manual of Style. ... El Capitan is a 3,000-foot (1000m) vertical rock formation in Yosemite National Park, located on the north side of Yosemite Valley, near its western end. ... Yosemite National Park (pronounced Yo-SEM-it-ee, IPA: ) is a national park located largely in Mariposa and Tuolumne Counties, California, United States. ...

El Capitan and the Merced River
El Capitan and the Merced River

However the National Park Service has the authority to ban specific activities in US National Parks, and has done so for BASE jumping. 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, which means that a mechanism to allow BASE in National Parks was always in place. However, National Park Service Management Policies have stated that BASE "is not an appropriate public use activity within national park areas ..." (2001 Management Policy This meant that there could be no permitted air delivery. It is noted, however, that this policy has a proposed change that strikes the language banning it outright and replacing it with a different test. Whether this will be approved, and whether this will make the granting of permits easier, is open to speculation. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1186x790, 567 KB)El Capitan, Yosemite National Park. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (1186x790, 567 KB)El Capitan, Yosemite National Park. ...

In the early days of BASE jumping, the Service issued permits under which jumpers could get authorisation to jump from El Capitan. This program ran for three months in 1980 and then collapsed amid allegations of abuse by unauthorised jumpers. Since then, the Service has vigorously enforced the ban, charging jumpers with "aerial delivery into a National Park". One jumper drowned in the Merced River while being chased by Park Rangers intent on arresting him. Despite this, 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. The Merced River is in California. ... Half Dome is a granite dome in Yosemite National Park, located at the eastern end of Yosemite Valley — possibly Yosemites most familiar sight. ... Glacier Point, as seen from Yosemite Valley. ...

Other US 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 better at other sites and in other countries. For example, in Norway's Lysefjord, 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. The Lysefjord from Kjerag The Lysefjord from Lysebotn Lysefjord (or Lysefjorden, the suffix -en is a form of the definite article in the Norwegian language) is a fjord located in Ryfylke in south-western Norway. ... The Troll Wall (Norwegian: Trollveggen) is part of the mountain massif Trolltindene (Troll Peaks) in the Romsdal valley, near Ã…ndalsnes and Molde, on the Norwegian west coast. ...

BASE jumping today

Upon completing a jump from all of the four object categories, a jumper may choose to apply for a "BASE number", which are awarded sequentially.[1] Base-1 was awarded to Phil Smith of Houston, Texas in 1981. The 1000th application for a BASE number was filed in March 2005 by Matt Moilanen of Kalamazoo, Michigan.[citation needed] This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ...

Eiffel Tower
Eiffel Tower

BASE jumping is often featured in action movies. The 2002 Vin Diesel film xXx includes a scene where Diesel's character catapults himself off a bridge in an open-topped car, landing safely as the car crashes on the ground. Since the 1976 Mount Asgard jump featured in the pre-credits sequence to The Spy Who Loved Me, James Bond movies have featured several BASE jumps, including one from the Eiffel Tower in 1985's A View to a Kill, the Rock of Gibraltar in 1987's The Living Daylights, and in Die Another Day, 2002, Pierce Brosnan as James Bond jumps from a melting iceberg. Of the James Bond jumps, though only the Mt Asgard and Eiffel Tower jumps were filmed in reality; the rest were special effects. Download high resolution version (1200x1600, 1103 KB)The Beauty of Eiffel File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Download high resolution version (1200x1600, 1103 KB)The Beauty of Eiffel File history Legend: (cur) = this is the current file, (del) = delete this old version, (rev) = revert to this old version. ... Mark Vincent (born June 20, 1967), better known as Vin Diesel, is an American actor, writer, director, and producer, known for his muscular physique and deep voice. ... XXX movie poster XXX (also written xXx), pronounced Triple X, is a 2002 action movie starring Vin Diesel. ... Mount Asgard is a well-known twin peaked mountain on Baffin Island, both flat-topped cylindrical rock towers, separated by a saddle. ... The Spy Who Loved Me is the 10th film in the James Bond series and the third to star Roger Moore as MI6 agent James Bond. ... The Eiffel Tower (French: , ) is an iron tower built on the Champ de Mars beside the River Seine in Paris, France. ... A View to a Kill is a 1985 spy film. ... For the racehorse of the same name, see Rock of Gibraltar (horse). ... This July 2007 does not cite any references or sources. ... Die Another Day is a 2002 spy film. ... Pierce Brendan Brosnan OBE [1] (born May 16, 1953) is an Irish actor and producer best known for portraying James Bond in four films from 1995 to 2002: GoldenEye, Tomorrow Never Dies, The World Is Not Enough and Die Another Day. ... Flemings image of James Bond; commissioned to aid the Daily Express comic strip artists. ...

The 1990s surge of interest in extreme sports saw increasing acceptance of BASE jumping, though it is still widely seen as a daredevil stunt rather than a sport. The lack of an objective way to measure skill as the basis for records and competitions hinders its acceptance as a true sport. Through the availability of specialized equipment and wider knowledge of techniques, it is safer today than in the early days, though fatalities and injuries still occur. Some deaths through ground impact in free fall or object strike do occur, but most incidents are due to hazardous landing sites or other problems which develop after the parachute has opened. Because of the covert nature of much of BASE jumping, no reliable figures are available to assess the statistical risks of the activity.

Trango Towers
Trango Towers

The Guinness Book of Records first listed a BASE jumping record with Carl Boenish's 1984 leap from Trollveggen (Troll Wall) in Norway. It was described as the highest BASE jump.[2] (The jump was made two days before Boenish's death at the same site.) This record category is still in the Guinness book and is currently held by Glenn Singleman and Heather Swan with a jump from Meru Peak in northern India at a starting elevation of 6,604 meters (21,667 ft)[3] The copyright status of this work is difficult or impossible to determine. ... The copyright status of this work is difficult or impossible to determine. ... The Troll Wall (Norwegian: Trollveggen) is part of the mountain massif Trolltindene (Troll Peaks) in the Romsdal valley, near Ã…ndalsnes and Molde, on the Norwegian west coast. ...

The sheer variety of the nature of the challenge at different jump sites means that direct comparisons of different jumps are often meaningless. There is a Guinness entry for "oldest BASE jumper" (James Guyer, aged 74 years 47 days). Even more contentious are claims sometimes made (although not recognized by Guinness) for the lowest jump. Given that a static-lined parachute can be made to open in little more than the length of its suspension lines, jumps can actually be performed at practically any altitude down to the point at which a parachute is not necessary for survival.

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 1300-ft Petronas Towers building in Malaysia, judged on landing accuracy.[citation needed]


Between 1981 and 2007 there have been at least 111 fatalities within people assigned BASE numbers in the sport.[4] Year 1981 (MCMLXXXI) was a common year starting on Thursday (link displays the 1981 Gregorian calendar). ... Year 2007 (MMVII) is the current year, a common year starting on Monday of the Gregorian calendar and the AD/CE era. ...


External links

  Results from FactBites:
BASE Jumping & Skydiving Photography, Video, Stunts| Aerial Extreme (514 words)
The Base jumping and skydiving specialists at Aerial Extreme have over twelve years of experience providing BASE jumping photography and skydiving photography, video, cinematography, stunts, demonstration BASE jumps and skydives, and a host of other extreme activities.
BASE jumping and skydiving have been a part of Mark Lichtle's life for the past 14 years.
As a BASE jumping expedition leader, Mark has led teams to such remote locations as the famous 13,000 foot Eiger in Switzerland, the majestic 3,000 foot walls of Norway, and the ominous 1,400 foot deep Cave of the Swallows in Mexico.
BASE Jumping involves a BASE Jumper, BASE Jumping off a fixed object which is an acronym for Building, antennae, span ... (659 words)
BASE Jumping involves a BASE Jumper, BASE Jumping off a fixed object which is an acronym for Building, antennae, span (Bridge), and Earth and thus represents the fixed-objects from which BASE jumps are made.
A BASE jumper is in a critical condition in hospital after his chute opened late during a 300m fall into a north Queensland waterfall today.
A parachutist jumping from a 145 metre skyscraper escaped death when his chute failed to open properly but got snared on a crane next to the building leaving him hanging, according to German police.
  More results at FactBites »



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