As I sit in the comfort of my lounge, feet up on a bean bag I’m watching the programme Men Who Jump Off Buildings I feel physically sick and I have to say a little annoyed.
These are adrenaline junkies who parachute jump from fixed objects such as buildings, statues or really high mountains and cliffs.
Base jumping in the UK is a secretive sport, often done in the middle of the night to avoid being caught by security and police. It is not illegal but very often the jumpers can be charged with trespassing. BASE is an acronym which contains the major groups of objects used in jumping:-
B – Building
A – Antenna
S – Span
E – Earth
The jumper begins by packing their parachute into a closed container, then jumps from their desired object and opens their parachute to stop the fall before gliding to a chosen landing spot.
The lowest “safe” jumps are heights of 100ft but this depends on the size and weight of the person jumping, because of how quickly they will fall.
When I started watching the programme I thought the men involved (though there are probably women doing it too) were basically stupid or slightly mental. Seriously, who in their right minds wants to jump from a building unless its burning or falling down?
Then as I got into the programme and saw the planning which went into each jump, the sites which they were jumping from – I thought they were pretty brave and even found some of it amusing. Particularly when the Police pulled up at the end of a jump and the jumper said “I’m going to kill the Pilot, this isn’t the landing ground is it?”.
It even highlighted just how bad security is in some places because the jumpers were merely dressing up as security men then walking into buildings like the new Wembley Stadium before commencing a jump.
On one jump, one of the guys’ parachutes opened facing the wrong way and threw him into a wall before he crashed on a roof and broke his ankle badly.
But it really started to make me feel sick and annoyed when they went to Austria and Switzerland where they were jumping from heights over 2000 feet. On their final day, they decided to do an unscheduled jump and it went wrong again. The jumper who had previously broken his ankle had another more serious accident. His parachute cords twisted as it was released meaning that he couldn’t control his parachute. He landed very badly and was lucky to be alive with two broken ribs, a punctured lung and a badly broken elbow. A year later he was still not back to full recovery.
Both of the men who the programme featured on were married, though neither of them had children yet. But do they not think about their partners when they do these jumps? I get that this was probably who they were before they got together with their partners but still what about their families? Their parents and siblings?
When they spoke to one of the women, she looked generally shocked when her husband announced that the thought running through his mind before he jumped was “I could die” yet then he laughed.
Thankfully, my husband isn’t an adrenaline junkie and would never do anything like this, though he could get knocked down by a bus tomorrow (I really hope not!) but some people just love dicing with death. So I go back to my title, are they brave, stupid or just downright selfish?