New River Gorge Bridge Day
Watch Daredevils Base Jumping From This Superb Bridge
New River Gorge Bridge Day celebrates the completion in 1977 of this incredible bridge over the New River in Kentucky.
The Fayetteville West Virginia Chamber of Commerce were so impressed by this wonderful feat of engineering that every year they sponsor a festival centred around events on the bridge.
The first one took place in 1979, two years after the New River Gorge Bridge opened. Now it is an annual event taking place on the third weekend in October.
The 2013 event is booked for 19th October.
So what actually happens on New River Gorge Bridge Day at Fayetteville West Virginia?
The bridge becomes the centre for the largest extreme sports event in the world. All four lanes of the U.S.19 highway are closed to traffic other than pedestrians.
From the catwalk under the bridge experts rappel up and down ropes suspended from the bridge structure. Teams of expert rappellers have been demonstrating the sport since 1992 but a recent new angle to this is something called the High Line.
Members of the public, after a brief period of instruction, get to slide down a 700 foot long rope to reach the safety of mother earth in the gorge below!
But what really draws the crowd of over 80,000 spectators, and fills most of the resorts in West Virginia, is the sight of daredevils BASE jumping from the bridge.
BASE is an acronym for the four types of fixed object from which a jumper can make a parachute descent.
It stands for buildings, antenna. spans and earth. (meaning cliffs)
Not just anybody can turn up to do a jump.
That is until this year!
Now, for the very first time, it is possible for someone who has never made a parachute jump of any sort to register to do a tandem BASE jump from The New River Gorge Bridge.
A tandem jump is where a passenger is securely strapped to the front of a vastly experienced skydiver and they descend together under the same canopy. Ten tandem jumps are going to be available, so if you fancy the idea you will need to register early.
Here is where you can find out all the information you need to know.
Up until 2011 and this new development of tandem BASE jumps, anyone wishing to participate in New River Gorge Bridge Day had to have done the requisite number of skydives before registering to jump.
In many countries BASE jumping is banned,
but not illegal. The difference is that nearly all jumps have to be done covertly and the jumper stands the risk of being arrested, usually for some minor offence such as trespass.
New River Gorge Bridge Day BASE jumping is one of the few exceptions to the total ban on BASE jumps taking place in the National Parks of the United States.
So for a six hour window on Bridge Day, BASE jumpers from all over the world come to experience the ultimate adrenaline rush by leaping off this amazing structure.
So why is BASE jumping generally banned?
Well, there is one good reason. It can be fatally dangerous!
Since this extreme sport began at the end of the 1970`s there have been over 160 known fatalities worldwide.
(From personal experience I know how dangerous the sport is. Two good friends and fellow skydivers lost their lives attempting base jumps.)
Unfortunately three jumpers have been killed on Bridge Day in the past. The last one being in 2006.
But a lot of these base jumping deaths occured in the beginnings of this sport when knowledge, experience and equipment was not as superior as it is today.
That said, the jump from The New River Gorge Bridge is comparatively undemanding with no obstructions and a reasonable landing area - as long as you stay out of the river!
Whatever the rights and wrongs of BASE jumping the New River Gorge Bridge Day remains an amazing spectacle and a truly memorable experience for the participants.
Bridge Day is just one way to celebrate events in the States, if you want to see how they
celebrate American holidays such as the 4th of July and Labor Day, then this site can really show you!
This page is dedicated to the memory of two good friends. Darren Newton and Mike Gibbard
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