Fayetteville, West Virginia, U.S.A.
For the past 30 years, hundreds of parachutists have been leaping off the New River Gorge Bridge during the world’s only legally sanctioned BASE jumping event Bridge Day. More than 450 BASE jumpers and up to 200,000 spectators attend this fall festival in Fayette County to celebrate and be entertained by the world’s second-longest, single-arch bridge.
The acronym BASE stands for the different stationary structures from which enthusiasts of this extreme sport catapult themselves: buildings, antenna towers, spans, and earth. Most times, BASE jumpers run the risk of arrest because they must trespass to climb tall buildings. On Bridge Day, jumpers are safe from arrest, but the other risks of this adrenaline rush, including death, are as great as ever.
Bridge Day: Jump Together Now
While novices can safely attempt skydiving in tandem with experts because there’s time for safety precautions and back-up measures like reserve chutes, BASE jumpers typically have just 2 to 4 seconds to deploy their parachutes because of the low altitudes from which they take off. BASE jumping is a seriously dangerous exploit reserved solely for practiced daredevils.
If you’re one of them, you must pass strict requirements to qualify as a jumper off the 876-foot (267m) New River Gorge Bridge. You must have already completed at least 100 skydiving parachute jumps and attend an advanced training session called “Bridge Day First BASE Jump Course (FJC)” or be trained by an approved mentor. The Snake River BASE Academy (www.snakeriverbase.com) teaches training courses right before Bridge Day. To learn more about BASE jumping preparations, sign up for classes, or register for a jump pass; visit www.bridgeday.info.