Posted on October 18, 2014
Do not (I repeat – DO NOT) jump off a bridge!
Unless you have been highly trained in B.A.S.E. jumping with parachutes. And you are an adult. And you have official sanction to make the jump.
Even under all of those conditions, I still would not want to jump off a bridge. Especially not if it meant leaping more than 800 feet into the New River Gorge in West Virginia. But, for the past 35 years, quite a few people have taken the training and made the leap – on Bridge Day!
Of course, most people who trundle out to the New River Gorge Bridge on Bridge Day are just there to watch. This year, more than 80 THOUSAND people are expected! And they will watch more than 800 BASE jumpers and some rappellers going up and down the bridge.
Bridge Day has grown to be more than just extreme sports. There is a farmers' market and a festival with food and vendors. There are music performances and a chili & cornbread cook-off. There are stunt team and car shows. There are down-under tours, in which people can ride down to the bottom of the gorge to watch the jumpers.
Actually, this sort of parachute jumping is far more dangerous than normal skydiving, which involves jumping out of an airplane with a parachute. BASE jumpers are 43 times more likely to be injured or die than skydivers!
How did BASE jumping get its name?
There are four sorts of things BASE jumpers can jump off of: Buildings, Antennae, Spans (bridges), and Earth (cliffs). The term was coined by a film making team led by Carl Boenish, probably in 1978 when their film of BASE jumps started the extreme sport.
How can we celebrate Bridge Day if we live far from West Virginia? And if we, you know, don't want to participate in one of the most dangerous and extreme of all extreme sports?
I personally prefer learning about bridges to jumping off bridges. If you feel the same way, check out this earlier post.
Also on this date:
Teen Read Week (October 12 – 18)
This year's theme: Turn Dreams into Reality
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