Our Bridge Day packing tarps are big, heavy, and usually quite dirty from all the chaotic packing taking place by 450+ jumpers. What’s the best way to clean it and have a little fun? A waterslide was the best solution. We had neighborhood kids ringing our doorbell asking if the waterslide would be back more than a week after we put it away. It was definitely a hit.
We’ve been working on many new things since Bridge Day 2010 and we had a very busy winter:
- Tandem BASE jumping will be available at Bridge Day 2011 for those with no parachuting experience. We’re excited to offer this as countless spectators have expressed interest in it over the last decade. I’m traveling to the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho to learn more about the system and take additional photos/videos. The Perrine Bridge offers legal BASE jumping 24/7/365.
- We’re currently fabricating a human catapult that will hurl jumpers up 20′ and out 50′. It should be ready for sandbag and human testing later this summer. We’re hoping that the Bridge Day Commission will be as excited about this as we are.
- Our new Miva Merchant 5.5 web store is up and running after spending countless hours configuring it.
- Jumper headquarters has moved back to the Holiday Lodge Oak Hill and we’re excited.
That’s all for now. Gearing up for another crazy July 1st at 2pm when jumper registration starts.
Check out Ashton Bell jumping into a foam pit at the local gymnastics center. He’s only three years old, but he’s got his BASE exit perfected.
For the third time in as many years, Mark Kruse with Rigging Adventures is donating a harness/container for our Bridge Day prize pool. Mark isn’t a big BASE gear manufacturer, but he’s got a big heart. For this very reason, we’re going to do everything we can to make sure all jumpers know who donates the prizes that jumpers really want. Let this be a challenge to the big boys. Thanks Mark!
In a world where $60,000 will pay for unlimited oxygen bottles and two personal sherpas to haul you to the top of Mount Everest, I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that I received a phone call from American Express Concierge recently. Apparently, they had a client who wanted to BASE jump and he/she was willing to pay for the service. That’s now how BASE jumping normally works
At least that wasn’t he case until Tandem BASE Jumping matured.
Just when I thought Bridge Day 2009 was over, I began to smell moldy tarps, vests, and banners in my garage. Everything seemed to get wet at Bridge Day 2009 and we didn’t start the cleaning process until two weeks after the event. Our packing tarps and 20′ tent required extensive cleaning as evidenced by the attached photo. Two people and two hours later, we completed the cleaning of one tarp. If jumpers, spectators, and Bridge Day Commission members could only imagine the amount of work we put into Bridge Day!
From the West Virginia Division of Tourism:
New life-size cutouts coming soon to Welcome Centers across the state Life-size “stand-in” cutouts of snowboarders will soon be available for the winter season at Welcome Centers across the state in the next couple of weeks. These cutouts offer a fun photo opportunity for visitors to capture their memories of the Mountain State. Summer cutouts include backgrounds with outdoor activities such as whitewater rafting and BASE jumping off of the New River Gorge Bridge. For a list of Welcome Centers, click here (http://www.wvtourism.com/spec.aspx?pgID=23).
This is very similar to what we had at the official BASE jumpers booth at Bridge Day 2008:
In the USA, it’s common to assume that other people are insuring your safety and well-being. For example, when you see a serious car accident, most of us assume that someone has already called 911. When you ride a roller coaster, you assume that the manufacturer has accounted for worst-case conditions with generous safety factors. And when you walk out onto the New River Gorge Bridge on Bridge Day, you assume that the WV Department of Highways has performed the appropriate calculations to insure the safety of all spectators.
While it’s unknown exactly how many spectators have been on the bridge at one time, my best guess would put the number at 20,000. BASE jumpers alone total more than 500 people near the jumper exit point at the center of the bridge. With 20,000 spectators mainly concentrated near the center of the bridge on the Northbound lanes, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to see that this is a unique asymmetrical load on the 31 year-old bridge. Before 9/11, spectators and motorists shared the bridge as four lanes of vehicular traffic became two for approximately ten hours. This arrangement permitted a more balanced weight distribution.
However, cars and trucks weigh quite a bit more than pedestrians. For example, a fully loaded semi-truck can max out at 80,000 lbs while a typical person weighs less than 175 lbs. Assuming that all spectators weigh 3,500,000 lbs (20,000 spectators times 175 lbs each), it would take only 44 fully loaded semi-trucks to equal this amount. With the New River Gorge Bridge at 3030′ long, I don’t believe it would be unreasonable to see this amount of loading. Of course, as a mechanical engineer, it’s in my blood to ponder things such as this. At the next Bridge Day Commission meeting, I’ll speak with the DOH to see what calculations have been performed. Nonetheless, having attended every Bridge Day since 1992, I’m confident and comfortable on top of the bridge (and you should be as well). Just as long as we all don’t jump up and down at the same time…..
As a BASE jumping videographer and photographer since 1993, I often risk my life to capture amazing images in freefall. Some of my photos and videos have appeared on Good Morning America, ESPN, Stuff magazine, numerous books , and other media. Needless to say, it’s disappointing to see West Virginia newspapers, websites, and brochures use my photos without permission (numerous times). Even worse, some of them gave photo credit to other photographers.
In the spirit of Bridge Day, I didn’t make a big deal of the situation. However, it’s all too common to see photo pirates attempting to justify the theft of a photographer’s hard work. Unauthorized users often report the incident as a “mistake” or a “mixup” of photos. With the proliferation of images posted on the internet and the ease of digitally transferring them, it’s become too easy for publishers to find the perfect unauthorized photo.
I have a simple solution to this problem that some people often overlook. It’s called “asking permission”. You’ll find that I’m very accommodating when people go through the proper channels and simply ask for permission before using my photos. After all, I’m here to promote Bridge Day and insure that the event is around for future generations to enjoy. If you see a photo on my website that would fit nicely on your new webpage or brochure, don’t hesitate to contact us.
Most people think BASE jumpers are “crazy”. Deep down inside, I’ll assume they’re simply jealous. BASE jumpers realize their dreams by exploring human flight while the naysayers watch life pass them by, sinking deeper and deeper into the safety of their couch and remote control.
My name is Jason Bell (no relation to the guy on your left) and I’m a 36 year-old BASE jumper from Bridgeport, West Virginia. I was the 428th person in the world to make parachute jumps from a Bridge, Antenna, Span (bridge), and Earth (cliff), earning me BASE #428. I’m also the “Bridge Day BASE Jumping Coordinator” since 2002, a BASE jumper since 1993, a mechanical engineer, and father of two small children. This blog serves as an easier method for me to post my thoughts on the Bridge Day event, details of Bridge Day Commission (BDC) meetings, rants and raves about the media, details on the sport of BASE jumping, and anything else that I’d like to chat about. Perhaps you’ll find some interesting information here that wouldn’t normally be found elsewhere?
BASE jumping is a complex sport that is commonly misunderstood by the masses. Most people are taught that BASE jumping is dangerous by what they’ve seen on TV. How many times have you seen a story on all the successful BASE jumps we’ve made around the world? Fortunately, a few good people in Fayetteville, West Virginia realized that the excitement of seeing people jump off a perfectly good bridge can bring nearly 200,000 spectators to the area for the largest BASE jumping event in the world. BASE jumpers travel from all over the world for a small six hour jumping window, but the sport is very weather-dependent. Most jumpers would prefer a three-day weekend of BASE jumping from the hidden catwalk below the road deck. Jumpers can’t be seen my motorists and more money would be brought into the Fayetteville community. Did I mention that the nearly 1000 BASE jumpers and family members spend an estimated $500,000 dollars to attend Bridge Day each year?
I’ll leave you with the following quote from whitewater pioneer Jon Dragan, who said “why do they invite 200,000 spectators to Fayetteville and then wave goodbye to them six hours later?”