Base jumping is a sport that is growing in popularity because it can be done in many locations for a relatively low cost. Individuals parachute off of a fixed object, which can be a building, an antenna, a span, or the Earth itself [that’s how BASE] is formed. The modern movement for this extreme sport gained traction in 1978 from jumps that occurred off of El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.
Facts About Base Jumping Deaths
1. The odds of dying in any Base jumping activity is 1 in 2,317.
2. As of February 2015, there have been 250 recorded fatalities that are directly attributed to Base jumping.
3. 40. That’s the number of people who have been killed because of an off-heading opening.
4. The number of people who delayed the release of their parachute too long: 45.
5. Windy conditions are known to have killed 7 Base jumpers since 1981.
6. The most common cause of Base jumping fatalities is a malfunction in the equipment that is being used.
7. 196 of the 250 fatalities were using a pin Base rig.
8. 2014 was the worst year for fatalities in Base jumping history, with 25 people being killed.
9. Between 2010-2014, nearly 50% of the total fatal incidents in the last 30 years have been registered.
10. The number of Base jumping deaths in 2003: 8.
11. The United States leads the world in the total number of fatalities with 60. Switzerland comes in second with 55 registered fatalities.
12. Americans are also killed more often than any other nationality. 68 Americans have been killed participating in this sport since 1981. That’s double any another nationality.
13. Out of the 250 total fatalities that have been registered, 230 of them were men.
14. During an 11-year period, a total of 20,850 jumps resulted in 9 total fatalities and 82 nonfatal accidents in as 2007 study of the sport.
15. Base jumping appears to hold a 5- 8x increased risk of injury or death compared with that of skydiving.
16. Most nonfatal accidents were related to ankle sprains/fracture, minor head concussion, or a bruised knee.
17. 38% of the fatalities can be directly attributed to a failure to pull the cord.
18. Between 1930 and 1961, 71 out of 75 people died trying to perfect a wingsuit.
19. 72% of jumpers have witnessed a death or serious injury of other participants in the sport.
20. 76% of jumpers have had at least one ‘near miss’ incident.
What is unique about this sport is that each person who achieves a complete BASE circuit is assigned a number. The first numbers were assigned in 1981 and soon after night numbers were also assigned. Today this sport pushes the boundaries with jumps that start at over 21,000 feet. In 2010, 53 jumpers jumped together to establish a world record. As this extreme sport continues to push the extreme, the Base jumping death statistics are going to become part of the conversation.
Are These Numbers Concerning?
Although Base jumping is more dangerous than many other extreme sports, what bothers most people is the fact that there isn’t a governing body that oversees the sport itself. Safety is placed in the hands of the individual. One error in packing the parachute or an unforeseen gust of wind can cause a very rapid tragedy.
Once a canopy collides with an object, then it is very difficult to recover from it. It’s not uncommon for the jumper to pendulum into the object that strikes the canopy when it gets caught on something.
One of the reasons why the fatality rates may be increasing, however, is that more jumpers are taking to Base “flying” as an alternative way to enjoy the sport. Because wingsuits make this possible, a jumper will often attempt to navigate around non-vertical environments and this can increase the risks of a strike occurring.
It happens to amateurs and professionals alike. Mark Sutton jumped into the London Olympics in 2012 dressed as James Bond to great acclaim. Just one year later, Sutton jumped out of a helicopter in a wingsuit, crashed into a mountain, and was killed instantly.
If you’re interesting in Base jumping, then it is important to know the risks. With the odds being that it will take over 2,300 jumps before an accident occurs, they are in your favor. Do yourself the favor, however, of knowing these statistics and making sure that all of your equipment is functioning as it should before you attempted to get your number.