BASE Jumping Rules, History, Tips & Equipment

A history of BASE Jumping, how to play, tips for improvement & necessary equipment

BASE Jumping Overview

Base jumping consists of jumping off of high fixed objects with a packed parachute. B.A.S.E. is an acronym for the four categories of fixed objects from which one can jump: buildings, antennas, spans (bridges), and earth (cliff). Base jumping is considered a fringe sport and is more dangerous than similar sports like skydiving out of an airplane.

BASE Jumping History

Base jumping was the invention of filmmaker Carl Boenish, his wife Jean Boenish, and friends Phil Smith, and Phil Mayfield. Boenish filmed the first base jump in 1978 in Yosemite National Park. Although there were documented base jumps prior to Boenish, most jumps were only attempted once and done illegally. After 1978, specific jumps started to be repeated, and base jumping became a true recreational activity. In the eighties, base jumpers used ordinary sky diving equipment for jumps. Later on specialized base jumping equipment was created that catered to the specific needs of base jumpers. The surge of interest in extreme sports in the 1990's led to a rise in base jumpers. The 1000th application for base jumping level certification was registered in 2005.

BASE Jumping Rules

Base jumping is normally an individual sport, but some base jumpers are known to jump from the same location at the same time. Base jumping takes place off of four categories of fixed objects: buildings, antennas, bridges and cliffs. A base jumper earns a level after jumping from an object in each category, i.e. if they jump off of two different objects they are a number two base jumper. There is also an award given out to base jumpers who jump at night.

Unlike skydiving, base jumpers do not reach terminal velocity. This gives base jumpers less aerodynamic control with a greater chance to tumble. Many base jumpers jump with only one parachute because there is usually not enough time for a second one. Base jumping allows for a much smaller window than skydiving to navigate a landing. While a skydiver may have somewhere around three minutes to ride to the ground after deploying their parachute, a base jumper usually has between 10-15 seconds.

Many base jumps are done covertly because jumpers are unable to get the permission of the owner of antennas and buildings. Jumpers who are caught can be expected to be charged with trespassing, breaking an entering, reckless endangerment, and/or vandalism.

BASE Jumping Tips

As base jumping is a dangerous sport that can easily kill and injure participants, one should seek out proper training and mentoring before attempting a jump.

BASE Jumping Equipment

Base jumpers need the proper parachute designed for the height of the specific jump they are attempting. It is recommended to have a friend take pictures or video to document the jump.