BASE jumping is one of the most dangerous sports on the planet.
You've probably seen those BASE jumping videos of people launching themselves off bridges and cliffs from extreme heights, pulling the parachute at the end and landing safely. While many people go BASE jumping each year, it doesn’t always end well.
BASE jumping is different from skydiving. Skydiving means you jump from a plane, while BASE jumping involves jumping from a static object.
BASE stands for building, antenna, span and Earth (or cliff). It’s more dangerous than skydiving because there is a much higher chance of hitting an object.
HOW MANY BASE JUMPING FATALITIES HAVE THERE BEEN?
311 people have died in BASE jumping accidents since 1981. This is the latest statistic recorded by online magazine BLiNC who keep the official BASE jumping fatality records. The idea of this list is to commemorate those who died. Their motto is Gone But Not Forgotten.
You might look at the number of base jumping fatalities and think actually that’s not that many people to die considering the risk involved in the sport. However, this statistics need to be taken with a pinch of salt.
This figure only represents the reported BASE jumping fatalities. This doesn’t include deaths that happened at night or while no one else was around.
HOW DO PEOPLE DIE FROM BASE JUMPING?
There are a number of ways people die from BASE jumping - from tangled lines to colliding with a static object. Most people who died BASE jumping were wearing a wingsuit.
This article in Outside Online details the specifics of how most people die from this sport. The most common cause of death is when a jumper fails to deploy his or her parachute.
WHAT IS WINGSUIT FLYING?
Wingsuit flying is similar to BASE jumping except the participant wears a wingsuit which allows him/her glide through the air.
The sport was developed in the late 1990s with the modern wingsuit. It creates a great surface area by attaching fabric underneath the armpits and between legs, like a flying squirrel. Wingsuit pilots can reach up to 62mph when flying forwards.
Wingsuit pilots also wear a parachute on their back, ready to deploy when they reach closer to the ground.
WHERE DO PEOPLE GO BASE JUMPING?
BASE jumping is still a sport that’s shrouded in secrecy because many of the jump locations are illegal for BASE jumping. Switzerland, France and America are all popular BASE jumping destinations. They have a lot of open, unmanned areas with cliffs, canyons and bridges to launch off.
Three men jumped off the top of the Freedom Tower in New York City back in 2013, where BASE jumping is illegal. They weren’t caught on the spot but the police caught up with them after the video footage was released onto the internet - and went viral.
The first high profile BASE jumping fatality happened in 1984 when Carl Boenish jumped from the Troll Wall in Norway. His body was sadly found two days later by local climbers. They are unsure what caused Boenish’s death but tangled lines or his parachute failing to open are two common theories.
The most high-profile BASE jumping death in recent history was the sad demise of Dean Potter, legendary BASE jumper and climber, and his partner Graham Hunt back in 2015.
It is recommended by many BASE jumping equipment manufacturers that jumpers complete a minimum of 150 to 200 skydives before they try BASE jumping. If you ask some BASE jumpers, they will say 1,000 skydives.
Another entry point to BASE jumping is through a ‘deathcamp’ where participants with zero skydives jump from bridges and land in water.
BASE Dreams run first jump courses for first-timers to BASE jumping. It costs 2,300 CHF for a group of four people (approximately 575CHF per person, which is around £450). For more information on BASE jumping beginners courses, read our guide here.
Remember, BASE jumping is a seriously dangerous sport. Take into account these risks when considering booking onto one of these courses.