Fingerprinting of BASE Jumpers, Rappellers, and Vendors at Bridge Day 2015
The Bridge Day Commission plans to move forward with the scanning of BASE jumper, rappeller, and vendor fingerprints in order to participate at Bridge Day 2015. Each fingerprint scan will reportedly check a database that searches for fugitives, warrants, and sex-offenders. Each jumper will be required to produce photo ID during the fingerprint scan. We're waiting on additional information on which scanner they plan to use. They'll likely tell us that fingerprints won't be stored, but we are skeptical.
From 2002-2013, jumpers were required to perform a one-time only background check that consisted of securely providing their name, SSN or passport number, and birthdate. If jumpers passed the check in 2002, they were good until now. In the last 13 years, no jumper ever failed the check and no problems were ever reported with the old system. At Bridge Day 2015, the State Police plan to attend our Friday 7PM jumper meeting at the Holiday Lodge Oak Hill hotel and process everyone's fingerprints through their system with the claim of it being "less intrusive" than the old system. Logistically, this new plan will present problems as we process jumpers, check gear, and provide jumper ID badges on Thursday night, all day Friday, late Friday night, and even Saturday morning. Additionally, the 20-25 jumpers who receive their jumper ID badges via USPS mail because they can't arrive at the event until Saturday morning will be out of luck.
According to a show of hands at Bridge Day 2014 and a recent online jumper poll, more than 95% of the BASE jumping community are not willing to give up their freedom for a little security and Fayetteville won't get their money next year. Jumpers have plenty of other legal objects to jump from where they are treated much better.
Even if we were in favor of the fingerprinting of BASE jumpers, it doesn't logistically work with how jumper ID badges are handed out. Here's why:
- Must fingerprint 500+ people (jumpers and staff) in one day, which is an enormous task.
- Jumpers may end up spending thousands of dollars and a considerable amount of time traveling to Fayetteville, only to find out they failed the background check.
- Many jumpers cannot arrive in Fayetteville until Saturday morning. While fingerprint scanning may be possible at this time, we don't hand out jumper ID badges this late.
- What happens with false positives during the scanning process?
- Will jumpers who fail the check have any privacy while surrounded by their fellow jumpers? Will a big red light, buzzer, and the words "FAIL" pop up on the screen for all to see?
- Cops at the Holiday Lodge (self-explanatory). We're guessing cops probably wouldn't want BASE jumpers at their annual convention either.
- BASE coordinator must somehow sync up the handing out of jumper ID badges with the WV State Police fingerprint scanning approval process.
Our fingerprinting alternatives include:
- Keep the existing background check policy of submitting names, SSN, and birthdate. This system worked fine for 13 years and we never heard one complaint from anyone at the Bridge Day Commission about the collection, submission, or processing of our personal information.
- Remove the background check altogether since 0 jumpers have failed it in 13 years.
- Perhaps a meeting with the Bridge Day Commission would allow us to seek alternate methods of submitting a small amount of personal information to facilitate a background check.
- Bag checks at the bridge entrances and bus stop at the middle of the bridge
- Other methods?
Jumpers MUST stick together and let the Bridge Day Commission, State Police, local Fayetteville and Oak Hill businesses, and any potential BASE organizers know that the majority of us oppose any type of fingerprinting or biometric check in order to participate. Without jumpers, Bridge Day will never be the same.
Per the official Bridge Day website, the Bridge Day Commission wants to make sure they consider any input from jumpers, rappellers and vendors, and they will be compiling feedback for review. They will also be sharing feedback with the WV State Police Department, which enacted the requirement. You can add your comment to the report by emailing Bridge Day at email@example.com. Specify if you would like your comments added to the report, or if they are off-the-record. Anyone is also welcome to call them at 304-465-5617 with any additional concerns, questions or comments.
Jumpers are willing to compromise, but they're also ready to jump elsewhere if required.
Jason Bell - BASE #428
Bridge Day 2003-2013 BASE Coordinator
"Those Who Sacrifice Liberty For Security Deserve Neither." - Ben Franklin
This website serves the 450+ BASE jumpers who attend Bridge Day each year. Spectators can obtain more appropriate information at the Official Bridge Day website.
- When is Bridge Day 2014?
October 18th from 9am-3pm, New River Gorge Bridge, Fayetteville, West Virginia.
- When and where can I purchase a BASE jump pass?
July 1, 2014 around 2pm EDT. If you have 100+ parachute jumps, register here.
- Are tandem BASE jumps available for those with no parachuting experence?
Yes. More information here.
- Do you have BASE jump training courses?
Our 3-day and 1-day training courses are for experienced skydivers making their first BASE jump.
- Can I rent BASE gear?
Yes. Visit our FAQ for details
- When will catapult launches occur?
Every 10-15 minutes throughout the day. More information here.
- Is there bungee jumping?
Not since 1993.
- How do I get onto the bridge, where do I park, and when is the bridge closed?
Please read our FAQ.
What is Bridge Day?
Bridge Day is held on the third Saturday in October every year in Fayetteville, West Virginia, and it's the largest extreme sports event and largest gathering of BASE jumpers in the world. It's one of the only places in America where you can easily watch a BASE jump happen live, in person, and on schedule, every 25 seconds. More than 450 BASE jumpers from 10+ countries and 40+ US states will leap from the 876' tall New River Gorge bridge, hundreds of rappellers will descend on fixed ropes, and up to 200,000 spectators are expected to attend this year's Bridge Day on Saturday, October 18, 2014 from 9am-3pm EDT. BASE jumper registration begins on July 1, 2014 at 2pm EDT via our web store. For those with no parachuting experience, but a desire to make a BASE jump at Bridge Day, please view our Tandem BASE Jumping information page. Since this website focuses on the BASE jumping portion of Bridge Day, general spectator questions are better answered at the official Bridge Day event website.
Bridge Day spectators are permitted to walk the length of the bridge in order to watch jumpers leap from the bridge railing, enjoy the fall foliage, or patronize hundreds of vendors who sell everything from handmade crafts to funnel cakes. Admission is free for spectators. BASE jumping at Bridge Day is reserved for experienced jumpers, however, those with no parachuting experience now have the ability to:
- Make a tandem BASE jump
- Make a tandem skydive
- Slide down the highline
- Take a catwalk tour
- Try the zip line canopy tour
Enlarge picture If you're planning on making your first BASE jump at Bridge Day, please read our First Timers page to see if you qualify (you'll need at least 100 prior parachute jumps). If you're happier with your feet on the ground, we have plenty of information for spectators as well. For answers to common questions, please read our Frequently Asked Questions page. For additional things to do while at Bridge Day, be sure to visit the New River Convention & Visitor Bureau.
Who Can Jump?
Jumpers must register online starting July 1, show up prior to Bridge Day for gear checks and meetings, and follow a few simple rules set forth by the BASE Jumping Coordinator and NPS. In addition, jumpers must have prior parachuting experience (at least 100 skydives and/or BASE jumps) and BASE jumping gear (or approved skydiving gear). Jumpers must be age 18 or older, in good health, and have the skills needed to perform a fixed object jump. Non-jumpers can opt to make a tandem BASE jump.
Jumpers must have made a parachute jump (skydiving or BASE) in the two years prior to Bridge Day. Our FAQ should answer many of your questions. Don't forget to review the BASE Malfunctions list and educate yourself on things you may have to deal with while BASE jumping. If you're a first time BASE jumper, sometimes it's best to contact us with your questions. We're here to help you have a memorable time at Bridge Day.
Register To Jump
Registration for BASE jumping at Bridge Day will begin on July 1, 2014 around 2pm Eastern Daylight Time (18:00 GMT) with payment via Visa, Mastercard, Discover, Paypal, or Check. At that time, Bridge Day jump tickets and vendor booths will have their inventory increased and all 450 available jump slots will be available until all slots are sold out (normally takes from three weeks to three months). Registered jumpers can make as many jumps as possible in six hours in addition to receiving free water rescue, shuttle buses, T-shirt, free pizza/beer/soda during post-Bridge Day party, seminars, video festival, packing tarps, diving board jumps, etc. (further details here). Don't forget to read the Frequently Asked Questions page.
What Is BASE Jumping?
Enlarge picture BASE Jumping is an acronym for the four types of fixed objects that are utilized for these foot-launched skydives: (B)uilding, (A)ntenna, (S)pan, and (E)arth. BASE jumpers first skydive hundreds of times from aircraft before attempting to BASE jump.
Many BASE jumpers have normal lives with normal jobs and families. Most have been jumping around the world for decades and come from educated backgrounds. BASE jumpers tend to be open-minded, intelligent, and curious. Jumpers are probably more scared riding motorcyles or wondering through the woods on the first day of deer season than making a BASE jump. BASE jumping has evolved enough over the last 30 years to be considered fairly safe. With nearly 1000 jumps made at Bridge Day each year since 1980, there have only been three fatalities (in comparison, West Virginia saw 53 ATV fatalities in 2006). BASE jumpers have chosen to participate in something that most people only dream of and their drive, energy, and appreciation for living life should be applauded.
A BASE jumper recently wrote: "Extreme activities attract truly remarkable people, and over the years I have often found myself in the company of heroes. Whatever it is that attracts people to BASE jumping seems to attract many to careers as police officers, fire fighters, paramedics, EMTs, and others who have what it takes to stick around when running like hell would be a more sensible option. But there are many others, who are more like me - ordinary people who find themselves doing extraordinary things. We don't wear badges or pull people from burning cars or buildings - at least that's not what we get paid to do. We may be sitting at the table next to you in a restaurant, or perhaps we teach your kids in school, or repair your car, or prepare your taxes. You may walk next to us on the street or stand next to us in an elevator and have no clue. We are right in front of you but you don't see us. We are an amazing community, yet many call us crazy or portray us as mentally defective. We see possibilities where you see tragedy. We see a higher level of existence where you see hopelessness.
Unlike skydiving, BASE jumpers typically use only one parachute as the lower exit altitudes of 200-2000 feet above the ground do not normally permit deployment of a reserve parachute. While it is legal to jump at Bridge Day for six short hours, any jumps made outside this small window can result in $5000 fines, gear confiscation, and a year in jail as imposed by the National Park Service (NPS). The NPS owns a small landing area on the East side of the bridge and they've arrested and prosecuted jumpers who've landed in or near the park. Fortunately, there are many legal bridges and cliffs around the USA and Europe where parachutists are welcome to enjoy their sport. The safest cliffs in the USA reside in our National Parks, but BASE jumpers cannot legally enjoy their sport on park property.
Photos - Bridge Day 2014
Video - Bridge Day 2014
The Bridge Day 2014 BASE video was filmed by two Vertical Visions staff members (Victoria Ey and Andrew Petro). High resolution copies will be provided free of charge to all jumpers. Further details on how to download the video will be included in the final email sent to all jumpers by the end of October.
Bridge Day 2014 Jumper T-Shirts
We have a few extra shirts on our web store.
Refunds For Bridge Day 2013 DVD
Bryan Rapoza recently wrote: "If you ordered a video from me at BridgeDay 2013, and you think it's taken too long, and would like a FULL REFUND, then contact me personally, and I'll take your name off the list, send you your money and that's that." You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Inside The Mind Of A BASE Jumper
Check out the SB Nation Article on Bridge Day 2013.
Packing DVDs and Books
Did You Know...
...that 71% of all Bridge Day landings are safely made on shore while 28% land in the water? The remaining 1% is reserved for unfortunate jumpers who opted for the railroad tracks, trees, etc.
Jumping Beyond Bridge Day
A BASE jumping expansion plan has been the recent focus of Vertical Visions and numerous other jumpers who would like to see jumping take place one weekend a month. The proposed jumping would take place underneath the bridge from the catwalk in coordination with the catwalk tours. Further information is available here.
Idaho Town Becomes Mecca for Bridge Jumping
Legal BASE jumping every day of the year from the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls, Idaho has become quite popular. "There are no rules basically to ban BASE jumping," said Shawn Barigar, a city council member and chairman of the Twin Falls Area Chamber of Commerce. "The general reaction is 'no harm, no foul'. As long as it is not disruptive, and isn't causing any problems, more power to them." Full story is here.
Only BASE jumping specific and approved skydiving gear will be permitted at Bridge Day. A complete list of acceptable gear is available in our FAQ. The recommended setup is a BASE specific 7-cell canopy with a low aspect ratio, a Velcro or pin closed BASE specific harness and container, and a 38-48" pilot chute with at minimum 9' bridle (required).
Enlarge picture A helmet and protective pads are highly encouraged. If you plan on taking at least a 3-second delay, you'll want to purchase a mesh slider to speed up the opening of your canopy. If you have attempted to modify or purchase BASE specific gear, a tailpocket is another good idea to clean up your pack job and provide reliable on-heading openings. You can also rent gear from many BASE jumping manufacturers. Keep in mind that a 9' bridle and minimum 38" pilot chute are mandatory. Our experienced riggers will inspect your gear prior to obtaining your Bridge Day jump pass. Check out our FAQ for more answers to your gear questions.
Bridge Day 2014
The 35th annual Bridge Day event will take place on October 18 with 450+ experienced parachutists (BASE jumpers) and tandem BASE jumpers leaping off the 876' New River Gorge Bridge. Jumper registration starts on July 1, 2014 around 2pm EDT. Registered jumpers can make as many jumps as possible for six hours in addition to receiving free water rescue, shuttle buses, a T-shirt (or similar clothing), free pizza/beer/soda during the post-Bridge Day party, seminars, video festival, packing tarps, diving board jumps, etc. (further details here)
Vertical Visions LLC, from Bridgeport, West Virginia, has been selected as the official BASE jumping coordinator for Bridge Day 2012-2014. This is our 13th year coordinating all BASE jumping activities for the Bridge Day Commission. Team leaders include Jason Bell and Bill Bird, both having extensive parachuting, BASE jumping, and Bridge Day organizing experience. Assisting will be Jason's wife, Jennifer Bell, and more than 70 volunteers. With the help of the Bridge Day Commission and our sponsors, some amazing things were done at the exit point in past years such as:
- Jumper catapult system
- $3500 in event fencing for increased security and jumper accessability
- A $5000 raised platform exit ramp (10' wide x 16' long)
- 16' commercial aluminum diving board
- Continued nationwide TV coverage
This year, we'll have the new jumper catapult system at the exit point which will launch jumpers more than 50' over the bridge railing. Many other details for 2014 are in the planning stages and will be posted here when available. There is NO bungee jumping at Bridge Day. To learn more about Bridge Day and BASE jumping, continue reading this website or feel free to contact us.
Can I Just Watch?
Absolutely! Bridge Day was originally designed to allow people to walk the length of the bridge while enjoying the fall foliage and beautiful scenery. Throughout the year, the New River Gorge Bridge is closed to foot traffic and stopping your vehicle on the bridge is prohibited. After five daring parachutists were permitted to jump at the first Bridge Day back in 1980, it soon became apparent that watching jumpers would become the major attraction. In the early 1980's, crowds increased and hundreds of BASE jumpers flocked to the area to enjoy six short hours of legal BASE jumps.
Today, hundreds of thousands of spectators travel to the Fayetteville area and the event has routinely shown on live TV around the world. Spectators are encouraged to read our FAQ for further information on where to watch, what items you are permitted to bring on the bridge, and how to dress for the event
BASE Jump Courses
- If you're looking for an advanced BASE training course, Apex BASE will be instructing a 3-day long Bridge Day BASE Jump Course from October 15-18, 2014.
- Alternately, the shorter Bridge Day Introductory Course will be held for 6-8 hours on October 17, 2014.
Enlarge picture We make first time BASE jumpers attend our courses or seek training from a mentor because jumpers likely had extensive training when making their first skydive. In addition, BASE jumping is more dangerous than skydiving. Bridge Day jumpers can purchase a slot in either course when purchasing jump tickets starting on July 1. Remember, all jumpers must have made at least 100 parachute jumps (skydiving and/or BASE jumping) prior to Bridge Day
Sponsor Bridge Day 2014 BASE jumping with banners, custom parachutes, clothing, products, coupons, gear, etc. The event has been shown live on shows such as CNN, NBC's Today Show, Headline News, the Weather Channel, and others since 2004 and BASE jumpers are the main focus.
Bridge Day 2013 Coverage
- Fox & Friends (live)
- The Today Show and NBC Nightly News
- The Weather Channel (live)
- CBS Morning News
- Afterwards the story was used by 248 stations and networks. The monitoring report said there were 27.5 million viewers around the country during the event. Many jumpers also watched the live internet stream.
CNN, Fox News, and The Weather Channel aired Bridge Day 2009 on live TV while Bridge Day 2008 was shown live on NBC's The Today Show, The Weather Channel, CNN, and Headline News. WV Media broadcasted three hours of live TV coverage of Bridge Day 2004 and 2005 to more than 1 million households in West Virginia, Kentucky, and Ohio, as well as a nationwide program on the Outdoor Life Network (OLN). We're excited to see what Bridge Day 2014 holds!
Bridge Day 2013 Stats
- 934 jumps made in 6 hours
- 12% female
- Roughly 8 countries and 41 US states represented
- Oldest jumper was 84 (Donald Cripps) who set a world record for, you guessed it, being the oldest BASE jumper.
- Average age for first time Bridge Day jumpers was 32
- 11 tandem jumps
- Approximately 15% of all jumpers were making their first BASE jump at Bridge Day.
- 47 catapult launches were performed with considerable success. Many jumpers were launched a second time at no charge.
- Bridge Day was broadcast live on The Weather Channel, CBS Morning News, and Fox & Friends.
- A Bridge Day 2013 Today Show episode was well-received. NBC Nightly News ran a similar story on late Sunday.
Tandem BASE Jumps
TandemBASE and Vertical Visions are excited to announce the availability of at least 10 tandem BASE jump slots for Bridge Day 2014. Available for the fourth time in Bridge Day's 35-year history, people with no prior jump experience will be able to make a BASE jump while attached to a highly experienced jump professional. TandemBASE is located in Twin Falls, Idaho and they've mastered a jumping technique based on the tandem skydiving method of instruction.
Bridge Day tandem BASE jumpers will experience a heart-pounding thrill beyond what words can possibly describe. At Bridge Day, tandem BASE jumpers will step off the exit point 876' above the New River and experience a 2 to 3 second freefall followed by an awe inspiring 40 to 50 second canopy ride and landing in the New River Gorge. This is ultimate rush for those who seek it.
About This Website
BridgeDay.info was developed in 2002 by the Bridge Day BASE Jumping Coordinator to serve BASE jumpers attending the event. Jumpers can register for Bridge Day and learn about the largest BASE jumping event in the world. If you're a spectator, you'll still find plenty of pertinent information here, but you might elect to visit the official Bridge Day event website.
Bridge Day Videos
We've finally finished two videos that documents the construction, testing, and human launches from our catapult system at Bridge Day and Maple Lake. The first video is 19+ minutes, showing more catapult assembly, launches, and dialogue. The second video is condensed into eight minutes. Enjoy.
Short version (8+ minutes)
NBC Nightly News (Bridge Day 2013)