What is base jumping?
This is a sport for real extreme sportsmen – those who are not afraid to tickle their nerves. The media played an important role in its popularization. Thanks to media coverage and, of course, the worst video of such flights on YouTube, in just a few years, base jumping has turned from an alternative to parachuting into an independent discipline.
What do you need to know for those who want to try this terribly extreme activity? This will be discussed in the article.
A few definitions
By definition, the concept of base jumping includes jumping from fixed, stationary high-rise objects. First of all, these are skyscrapers, antennas, bridges and natural relief: steep cliffs and mountain peaks. From the first letters of these objects in English, an acronym is formed in the name of the sport: BASE.
Base jumpers wear a parachute and a special wing suit. Such equipment allows them to slow down the speed of descent. By the way, athletes not only descend from impressive heights in their fancy costumes, but also perform complex tricks.
They easily fly just a few centimeters from the ledges or squeeze into small gaps between the rocks. Well, it’s easy: it may look simple, but in fact it takes a lot of experience to calculate the safe distance to the object and rush right past it. Any mistake here can be fatal.
Yes, deaths are not uncommon here, especially among beginners. That is why all beginners are advised to train with certified trainers before jumping on their own. This sport has a lot of subtleties and nuances, ignorance of which can lead at best to serious injuries.
Unlike parachute jumps from high altitudes, base jumps are carried out at a lower height, but in close proximity to all kinds of structures (buildings, rocks, etc.). This greatly restricts athletes in time when making decisions: you need to respond very quickly to changing conditions.
In base jumping you can feel like a flying squirrel.
Nevertheless, as the sport developed, some paratroopers switched to BASE in order to constantly receive adrenaline, which traditional jumping from the side of the aircraft among the fields no longer brings.
The first time after a jump, base jumpers soar freely, tacking among objects. After that, they open their “wings”, which allow them to perform all kinds of tricks. Experienced “jumpers” can fly in the immediate vicinity of various objects or between rocks, as mentioned above.
When there is very little left to the ground, the athletes open their parachutes and land smoothly.
During the fall, they can accelerate to 200 kilometers per hour or more.
In its modern view, base jumping is younger than parachuting. But if we turn to history, the first jump from a fixed structure made by Louis Sebastian Lenormand in France at the end of the 18th century was 14 years earlier than a jump from a moving structure: a balloon. In addition, there are references to the fact that 5 centuries before this, eastern acrobats jumped from buildings.
Until the seventies of the last century, no one could even think about how to single out base jumping as a separate sports discipline. The pioneers were videographer Karl Benish and his wife. In fact, he coined the term when a family place with Phil Smith and Phil Mayfield filmed their first jumps from El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.
Then for the descent, they used parachute equipment. For at least a few years, athletes in base jumping used only parachute equipment, but over time, everything changed.
Now the equipment has been improved to solve the specific tasks of athletes: the ability to experience free fall for as long as possible, as well as get much more freedom of action. Now, base jumpers can easily soar over beautiful places for a long time and only a few tens of meters from the ground open a parachute. They don’t have “spare parts” with them, because you won’t have time to open it if the main parachute fails.
Parachute, overalls, helmets and other equipment developed, becoming more compact and lighter, turning into something that is much better suited for use in a more active sport. Since base jumpers are often forced to carry their equipment for miles before jumping, lightness was really important.
Interesting facts about base jumping
To engage in this sport, you will need a lot of equipment, starting with the parachute and the suit and ending with a helmet and protective equipment. Of course, when falling to the ground at such a speed, this will not save the athlete, but it can very well be protected from injuries during the flight (in the event of a collision with trees, birds, etc.).
Karl Benish created a list of base jumpers who made at least one jump from all four structures, the name of which forms the acronym BASE