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BASE JUMPING – History, accidents, and evolution


“Questioning or criminalizing Base Jumping in such a small window frame as the current scenario, from a “Hindsight point of view”,  not looking back to the past nor forward to the future, is questioning both the history and the evolution of the human being”.

The following information is intended primarily for the non-specialized public and the media but it also could be of interest to some base jumpers.

(Note from the author: if this article does not sound like W.Shakespeare or E.Hemingway, please keep in mind I´m Spanish and speaking and writing my mind in English is not easy :). I apologize in advance for any language-related error. The original article, in my mother tongue,  can be seen here).

¿What is and what is NOT B.A.S.E. Jumping?

B.A.S.E is the acronym for Building, Antenna, Spam and Earth, which are the most common fixed objects we jump from.

Base Jumping is NOT Paragliding, nor Skydiving, in the same way that Paddle Tennis is not Tennis, nor Tennis is Table Tennis. They are different activities with common elements: canopies/parachutes, and rackets, respectively.

This seems to create confusion so it is worth starting clarifying it.


When skydiving, we jump from a high altitude moving aircraft.

If we are Paragliding, we take off from a slope using our legs to run and generate speed with the canopy already unpacked and deployed.

And while Base Jumping, we leap off from fixed points, at much lower heights, falling vertically or gliding to then deploy the parachute in order to land.

Whenever there is a  BASE Jumping accident, it is common to see file photos or videos of Skydivers or Paragliders or even get to interview Skydivers about base jumping accidents, as in this video or this one.

Apart from representing premature and unfounded speculations, in bad taste and at an inappropriate time, (the jumper’s family will be affected by the loss of a loved one, or the jumper himself may be writhing in pain in a hospital), it is the equivalent to ask a family doctor, who writes prescriptions and refers patients to specialists, about the latest advances in the Genome editing  CRISPR / Cas 9 Technique.

In other words, modern base jumping resembles skydiving as much as an egg to a chestnut, and we are asking an alleged “expert”, who could be as proficient in Base Jumping  as I am speaking Russian (unless he is also a base jumper, which sometimes happens but most of the times, nop).

The opposite of this type of attitude is the Doxastic Commitment or Doxastic Safety, where you only talk about what you have tried in the real world and you truly dominate through proven experience and skills.

Unlike Skydiving or Paragliding, Base Jumping is not yet an activity officially regulated by federations, governing authorities or groups of “experts”.

It is a Community based on Collective Wisdom and Natural Selection, which continually redefines the barriers separating the impossible from the possible as far as the human dream of flying is concerned.

During events or competitions, it falls under the show category. As a concept, regardless of its federative situation, it sounds like a sport to me, according to the definition of the European Sports Charter:

«All forms of physical activities that, through organized or non-organized participation, have as their objective the expression or improvement of the physical and psychic condition, the development of social relations or the achievement of competitive results at all levels»

The fact that base jumping rules or principles are not official through a sports federation does not mean that there are no principles and everything falls to randomness:

When we participate in competitions;

-Technical Director and several judges are appointed, who in addition to scoring, help us assessing and mitigating risks.

-Emergency medical care service is available.

-Authorization from the place where the event is held is obtained, and third party insurance is required (although it’s not always easy to get one for base jumping).

-Internal scoring rules are established in the different competition modalities, always emphasizing the skills that, outside of a competitive environment, would increase the chances of success.

On this classic base jumping competition video, we appreciate freefall delay awareness (we need to deploy within a specific interval of time), opening performance (we need to open the canopy on heading, away from the object we just jumped from)  and landing accuracy, make the overall score.

On wingsuit competitions, the score normally goes for speed and target accuracy as shown in this spectacular video.

And most importantly, whether if it is on an organized event, a competition, or jumping with your buddies, we all tend to operate within a more or less standard international code of ethics.

As in any activities, there are exceptions and in my travells worldwide I have encountered a few jumpers acting recklessly. I can count them with the fingers of both hands. In general, it is a respectful community.


A recent discipline, still on the stage of maturing

In 40 years we have gone from jumping and falling vertically wearing non-specialized skydiving gear, to glide wearing ultra-light, efficient, specifically engineered gear for Base Jumping. Or in the case of Yves Rossy, sustaining flight performing as a tiny fighter jet.


Carl Boenish and Yves Rossy. 2 Front Line practitioners who will appear in future human flying history books.


Wingsuit flying, attention! it is not Windsuit, neither Winfly, Birdman, Birdsuit, nor Wing-Tsun (this is Kung Fu), as it could be named sometimes, it is a Base Jumping sub-discipline that in the last decade has gained great popularity among the community and has also generated certain interest within the society.

Unlike conventional Base Jumping, the suit generates enough lift to glide at high speeds, travel certain horizontal distance to end up deploying a parachute in order to land safely.

Wingsuits cannot (just yet) be landed without first opening the parachute, although it has already been “controlled crashed” in a nice calculated manner, as shown in this video. It is likely that in the not too distant future some efforts will continue to be put towards landing them safely.


Brief Historical Review

Who has not dreamed of flying?

If we look back,  we all woke up one day with the great feeling of having risen from the ground as birds do.

My 5-year-old son, coincidentally,  woke up days ago telling me he was flying in his dreams.


Bruno. He loves what daddy does, but he would love it anyway as it is freaking amazing for any kid!


Whether if we like the idea or not, the flying desire must be stamped in our DNA somehow.

Questioning or criminalizing Base Jumping in such a small window frame as the current scenario, from a *Hindsight perspective,  not looking back to the past nor forward to the future, is questioning both the history and the evolution of the human being.

*In Hindsight, we confuse our reality with the one that surrounds the people we are judging. In the field of Safety Management,  is well described by Sidney Dekker.

Applied to base jumping; 3 different point of views for the same accident; Inside, Outside and Hindsight


Since Icarus flight in Greek Mythology, or Abás Ibn Firnás in the 9th century CE, in Córdoba, Spain, trying his articulated wings made wood and silk; passing through Leonardo da Vinci’s vision with all his brilliant designs in the 15th  century CE, and right up to the Wright Brothers during early 20th century  commanding the first motorized flights of machines heavier than air, they all shared the desire to fly.

From Wright Brothers, to step on the Moon and the Concorde transporting passengers at twice the speed of sound, we went through just 60 years of aeronautical evolution.

Comparatively, modern Base Jumping is only 40 years old and despite the progress shown before, it is still under development.

In the not too distant future, we are likely to have the ability to fly with total normality, such as who is driving a car, and it will be thanks to the contribution of those “crazy guys “ who pushed hard trying.

I´d like to think that the crazy ones appearing on the sensationalist news today, will appear as pioneers in tomorrow’s “Wiki-books” or Air Museums when showing the history of flight to future generations.

The great Patrick De Gayardon will be one of them, check this video out and enjoy; a tribute to his life.


Base Jumping is the evolution of our ancestors’ desire

Why do we Base Jump nowadays?

Like almost everything in life, there is no single reason.

This scientific article shows certain psychiatric reasons, to which other relevant factors can be added.

In my specific case (and I think in the case of many others too), are the following:

Social / Family

   It is fun

Search for emotions and adventures. As simple as true.


Surviving an extreme activity in a hostile environment, through mastery of body and mind, makes daily issues look like a walk in the park. Arguments at work, or family challenges…All is relativized and infinitely more bearable, thus, providing happiness.

   Benefits of social connection with people from your tribe, with a similar vision.

Loneliness is harmful and kills, as this study shows.  When exposed to severe stress, we tend to seek group support, as seen here. 

I have seen death right next to me, I have been in severe pain after isolated injuries and I have received warm support by the group whenever needed.

Most base jumpers would have gone through similar scenarios after a while performing the activity as this study reflects. Surprisingly, difficulties did not make me depress or weaker, they made me way stronger and more connected to my peers.

Collective difficulties and genuine experiences lead to strong links, deep and true relationships, as shown in this study (even huge disasters according to this other study )


Tonymad, Juanito y Jonathan Trango, my base family, performing in Andalucía, Spain, the “Olive Planet”



The need to leave a legacy for descendants, by setting up an example.


Once you have been on death´s doorstep accompanying someone, once you have been injured… you will appreciate life way more and will perform in a safer manner.

Life-Death Balance according to S. Freud.

Knowledge and Mastery of the death drive (Thanatos), overcome the paralyzing fear, to reach a complete vision of the Life Drive (Eros).

Article: Freud’s Theories of Life and Death Instincts.

As interesting as deep, for the most curious.



Sports Genomics. Impact of Genes on Activity

It is likely that many of us have a certain genetic predisposition to “risky activities”.

Geneticists have explored the possible links between a propensity for high-risk activities and certain genetic markers. There seems to be a connection between the polymorphisms of the D4 subtype of the dopamine 2 receptor (a G protein-coupled receptor that inhibits adenylyl cyclase) with risky behavior and seeking new scenarios in humans and other living organisms, as this study shows.

Dopamine is the neurotransmitter most associated with “action”, addiction and substance abuse. There is a clear connection between risk-taking and the increase in adrenaline/dopamine/ endorphin experienced by extreme sports participants, just as in the game and high-risk professions, such as financial commerce (Wolf of Wall Street best scenes, these guys make me laugh for some reason).



Feeling certain genetic predisposition could also carry certain responsibility with history and evolution, thus urging some of us to continue the work already done by our predecessors.

What could possibly be more exciting for a “thoroughbred” Spaniard (Andalusian), than jumping from el Tajo de Ronda, a city that saw the birth of one of the greatest “airfreaks” in history, Abbas Ibn Firnás.

 “Those that are pushing into territories that are yet to be conquered, we need them to tell us what is possible and truly explore what is not yet known.”

Sports and adventure psychologist Michael Gervais, PhD.



Although it seems paradoxical, if you get to master-ish Base Jumping and manage to survive without sequels, you will be safer in the rest of the activities and in life in general:

You will be anti-fragile.

The opposite to fragile is not robust, or strong: it is anti-fragile. The robust resist stressors or volatility. The antifragile is strengthened by the same stressors and volatility. The fragile wants tranquility, the anti-fragile emerges from disorder. (Nassim Taleb).

A glass of crystal is fragile; if it falls it smashes into pieces.

The tibia of a kickboxer is anti-fragile (once it recovers from the stress of the hits, it becomes harder).

A purebred dog is usually fragile, a street crossed dog is antifragile (the same thing happens in humans).

In mythology, Damocles was fragile; he had a sword hanging on a thread over his head, the slightest stress would strike him, so he wanted peace of mind. On the contrary, the Hydra was anti-fragile; if they cut off his head, two heads would come out.

More on Taleb and antifragility.


Post-traumatic stress that usually produces suffering and weakness in most people, in certain base jumpers (and other sports too)  is transformed into generative stress through a process of “overcompensation.”

Once you have pushed limits and generated stress, both body and mind will expect you to perform even harder next time, therefore adapting to the new, potential reality.

A clear example is strength workouts. You can spend half a life moving low weight in comfortable gym machines with few results, or on the contrary, you can focus on effectively training your deadlift 1 RM (maximum repetition) and recover the rest of the time.

Same thing happens with the prolonged exercise of low intensity (jogging at 120 BPM) VS short interval exercises of high intensity. The latter generates better adaptations.


We need to expose ourselves to the right amount of stress since the dose makes the poison (Hormesis Concept).

A lot of almost anything will kill you, but so it does not having enough of it, either because of atrophy of our basic skills, boredom, inactivity, or depression!

Performance VS Exposure


Understanding this concept is one of the key points to survival.

Stamp the “sweetspot graphic” in your brain.

We must try to build enough knowledge and skills to reach the top of the curve in the graph, leaving behind ballasts as ego, comfort, and ignorance.

The issue here is most of the time we don’t reach because we don’t see.

We are blinded by ego and ignorance, or both. We do not know what we do not know (unconscious incompetence stage).




The fact accidents generate interest from society is not new. Death or injuries often produce morbidity as a standard behavioral pattern in humans.

Base Jumping is not the exception, rather the opposite.

Although I prefer to focus on life rather than death, since I have heard many  inaccurate statements regarding accidents, it makes sense to provide certain data based on the few serious studies that have been conducted and published:



The following table shows some data regarding mortality and accident rate in sports considered “Extreme”:


This infographic, complementary to the previous table, represents the number of deaths per activity, comparing Base Jumping with other “extreme activities”.

Potentially relevant factors

The following is a description of potentially relevant factors that might have to do with with the current high accidents rate:

Base Jumping is a recent activity still in the process of maturation

As an instance, Aviation at the age of 40 had a much higher accident rate than today, being considered at the time a very dangerous activity. From Carl Boenish (Sunshine superman) jumping in the US in the 80s in a systematic and consolidated way until today where we glide as birds at airplane speeds, only 40 years have passed. Although the progress is already enormous, it is still an activity in the process of maturation.

Training and safety standards are lower in Base Jumping compared to aviation, being much easier to leap off from a cliff than getting into an aircraft cockpit and take off.

This is mainly due to the influence of the internet and video era.

From a safety point of view, the available reaction time while on a base jump is way shorter than in aviation. We are more exposed, therefore safety margins are smaller in general.

Less margin and less training is the perfect combination to increase the number of accidents.

Collective intelligence and group ethics have been so far the driving force to progress in our activity. Darwins Natural Selection has acted as a filter for the evolution, without federations, governing authorities, official rules, etc… unlike skydiving, aviation or modern sport-climbing, where you are told what you can and cannot do.

Evolution, historically, has been linked to mortality, inevitably. We can mitigate risks, but we can not and should not make activities 100% safe if we want to continue progressing. If nature requires having long arms like those of the apes again to move between the branches and reach the fruit, future generations will have long arms.

If to survive flying skills as coordination, development of corporal and kinesthetic intelligence, determination, optimal emotion management, critical thinking and overcoming paralyzing fear, just to name a few,  are required, in the future, if it is not externally over-regulated by “helping” the weakest in excess through a system for “dummies” (very typical of today’s society), the most adapted would end up developing those skills.

They will prevail and the activity will tend to self-regulate, maintaining progress.

At the crossing of the Mara River, in África, 6000 wildebeest die every year, drowned or eaten by crocodiles.

How could they be so stupid?

Group stupidity or nature´s overall master plan?


Obviously, there are deeper reasons than group stupidity. This National Geographic article, based on a scientific study, demonstrates that this situation provides nitrogen to ground, phosphorus, and coal to the river’s food chain, constituting a fundamental part of the nutrients of fish and other small animals in the region.

Something similar happens in Base Jumping; if we want to continue progressing towards the dream of flying, we should not judge deaths and accidents under the current “tunnel vision” contextual framework, ignoring deeper factors such as history, genetic predisposition, and future outcome from potentially flying as birds.  Once again, we face the “Hindsight Bias”.

Having said that, in a society in which it is getting harder and harder to eat a chicken egg out of respect for the animal, it might be utopian to think that human mortality must be accepted (to a point) for everyone’s progress…Although utopian, still worth to drop it as a heads up.


When the Heuristic Method is buried by the Academic Method or over-regulatory zeal, the bases for a Fragile Society are set in place

In this futuristic film by Andrew Stanton, humans have become fat, useless and accommodated under the supremacy of technology. It is a little scary to think that Ridley Scott already visualized many scenarios in 1982 with Blade Runner that have been fulfilled in 2019.

Hopefully, Andrew will be wrong and we will take the reins of the destiny of our future generations.


Heuristics buried, literally, by a “Super-Safe” Academic Method, Dummies-proof.


This is what happens when we allow ourselves to be anesthetized by the system of infinite comforts and nothing represents a minimum challenge. An excess of the Academic Method does not leave time for “Erudition” and heuristics. Finding the balance is not easy, although, has this guy on the picture not found it somehow!? 🙂

A world of prohibitions and excessive regulatory zeal? The Legality VS Illegality social dilemma

A man of wisdom said once: “Without prohibitions, the world would be chaos, and if everything was prohibited, everything would be chaotic too.” 

For something to really take an interest, forbid it, overregulate it, and criminalize it by avoiding dialogue. Then you will get “the forbidden fruit effect”.


Forbidden to forbid?


Taking our son to school by bicycle using this tow bar seems like a fantastic activity for the whole family. Start the day with collective exercise, move your ass in a self-sufficient way, avoid polluting, have the opportunity to educate in Road Safety and lead by example. Everything sounds like advantages under a modern society framework.


Well, according to our National Civil Code, in Spain, it is illegal. On the contrary, in other countries with laws closer to new trends, it is not.

Do we feel within the framework of illegality? Definitely not.

We wear a helmet, all sorts of protections, lights, reflective vests and we do respect the Road Safety regulations. People smile at us and like what they see. The police kindly say good morning whenever crossing our path.

With Base Jumping we could be encountering a similar scenario. Or not.

In my right mind, I would not think of doing an urban Base Jump from a building, daylight, after having entered by force and jumping on the heads of pedestrians who quietly push baby carriages.

On the contrary, even if Base Jumping gets categorically prohibited from one day to the other, I would have no issues in performing a “Ninja style” Base Jump away from people, as part of the sporting activity in nature, without disturbing anyone and leaving no trace.

It all depends on the context. I do not consider the average base jumper a “rebel without a cause” like James Dean on that movie. I got to learn during my aviation career, that “Procedural Drifts”, when carried out continuously by frontline personnel,  tend to be the signal of a deeper need in the system, rather than an individual violation or criminal act.

Prohibiting from the Ivory Tower, in Base Jumping, and in many other areas, most likely would generate the opposite effect, as mentioned above, the forbidden fruit effect. Meeting somewhere in the middle as shown in the following article point, might work better.

You can’t just cage all the birds: it goes against nature.



Progress emerges from the Wisdom of the Base Jumping Community


If the goal is to really tackle “the problem”, delimit it, dialogue, mitigate the impact and educate the collective. In a medium-term, dialoguing and delegating the leadership to the true leaders of the activity, might be the key to sport progress and social coexistence.

The Swiss Base Jumping Association (SBA), in collaboration with the Italian Base Jumping Association (IBA), are the perfect example. They do an excellent job mediating among the local inhabitants of the Lauterbrunnen Valley, or Monte Brento (30,000 jumps are made annually between both spots) and the Base Jumpers.

Base Jumping is Legal in those areas, and in order to continue to be considered legal, the following is promoted:

-Facilitate and encourage the acquisition of insurance.

-It is required to obtain a compensatory landing card, where the funds raised go to possible damages to the crops of local farmers, owners of the land and a small percentage to improve base jumping facilities.

Basic rules of coexistence with the local helicopter and paragliding companies.

Original ethics of the activity are encouraged.

-Jumpers are educated, from the written Ethics, but are also by example.

Maurizio Di Palma is an Italian jumper respected by all, who has led the Italian Base Jumping scene in the last decade, performing over 5000 safe base jumps without major injuries. He is ethical, respectful, conscientious, lives off the activity promoting the essence of sport and is an elite athlete founded from humility. Like him, there are quite a few who made us all better jumpers.

Matt Gerdes is another character that deserves to be mentioned. In addition to being a super talent in the air, where he shares his learned skills as an instructor, together with some of the best flyers in the world, he shares his knowledge in very helpful articles,   If that’s not enough of a contribution, he wrote a book on base jumping that was a game-changer for absolutely all jumpers who read it. The great book of base is full of theory that makes sense, written in a fun and close way, straight to the key points.

Simon Wandeler, Laurent Fratt (love his 5min for safety cards) and many others also care about safety and are able to see the long run.

A whole new generation has been born strongly influenced by this trend, focused more on education and live drive (Eros) and less on the extreme and dead drive (Thanatos).

This new generation will naturally lead the following one, and so on. It will continue to spread. We become the average of the 5 people we hang around the most, so the standards and collective intelligence will continue to rise.

The key: Collective intelligence, education and leading by example

These kinds of associations really work, they make us proud, they make us better jumpers and better world citizens. The great majority of jumpers deeply respect the criteria of those who lead them.

You know why?

Because they lead and educate by example. They are seen as frontline practitioners. It is extremely hard from an ethical point of view to bend “rules” that have been proposed by people you deeply respect.

Marcel Geiser from SBA doing a great job, as usual. The community appreciates it.


On the contrary, if the “Illuminati” or anointed, who from real-life might know very little, legislate with prohibitive zeal, in “hindsight mode”,  from their “Ivory Tower” in the city center, not listening to the society, it usually creates the opposite effect; rules that tend to be ignored.

380 fatal accidents from 1981 to October 2019.

Of which, almost half of them have been during the last decade involving wingsuits.

In this study of 106 fatal accidents between 1981 and 2006, a fatal accident can be seen for every 60 participants and one fatality every 2317 jumps. When wearing wingsuits, the death rate increases to 1 in 50 participants.

It ends up concluding, basically, that jumpers must mitigate risks with appropriate training and technical interventions. Base jumping, specially wingsuit flying, is aviation, therefore deserving a high level of training.

Deciphering the statistics

There are two well know places in Europe (Switzerland and Italy) where we estimate at least 30,000 base jumps are performed every year (according to SBA and according to IBA).

Base Jumping is an activity that sits outside any kind of sports federation scope,  so it is difficult to estimate how many jumps are made annually worldwide.

The following data represents my best guess:

Taking into account the above mentioned figures, the known “world events tour”, scheduled competitions, that in a single event of a few days more than 3500 jumps can be made, as in this one in Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), or this one in Kjerag (Norway), and considering an annual average of 50 jumps by a community of 2000 jumpers (Some will do hundreds and some will take it as easy as 20-50);  Most likely,  50,000 -70,000 jumps will be made every year.

The average number of fatal accidents rounds 25-30 per year. This is would match the statistics of previous studies shown.

More specifically, here is the trend in the last 5 years has been:

2015-> 27 fatalities.

2016-> 37 fatalities  (15 during August).

2017-> 18 fatalities.

2018-> 32 fatalities.

2019->17 fatalities (Until October)

Please draw your own conclusions.

The following represents my own personal interpretation


My conclusions:

Is Base Jumping a deadly activity?

Yes, according to the available data and previous witnessed experiences. They have not told me, I have seen it.

Is it a dangerous activity?

Yes, it is. Although risk cannot be treated within a binary or dichotomic system, only red (danger) or green (safe).

On the contrary, it feels more as a vague concept strongly influenced by our individual approach on Safety and Training, whether if it is Aviation or Base Jumping.

What is risky for some, it might not be a challenge for others who genetically are more prone to the activity and have mastered their survival skills, within the right environment, under the appropriate guidance.

Hmmm….and now what!


An acrobat from Cirque Du Soleil can operate in a safe manner performing multiple stunts at 10m above the ground, whereas a non-specialized individual performing a simple backflip on the floor could be hurt pretty easy.

Sean D. Tucker can safely operate his complex aerobatic biplane Challenger during his airshow routine, whereas a recently graduated Private Pilot during a simple flight in a docile Cessna 152 could get in trouble.

Marc Márquez is probably safer competing at 350km/h at Qatar racing circuit than a 16 years old youngster crossing Madrid city center on a scooter.  Besides, not everyone can be acrobats from Cirque Du Soleil, not Sean D. Tucker, nor Marc Marquez.

Base Jumping is not for everyone.


Do statistics represent reality?

No, I don’t think so.  I know jumpers who have performed  +5000 safe jumps without injuries who according to statistics should have died several times, and I have known others that if they were resurrected they would die again 3 or 4 times in the next 50 jumps*.

Statistics are partly influenced and magnified by a temporary “genetic intrusion” self-caused by our community in the Internet era.

(*I could die tomorrow, and anyone base jumping on a regular basis could. Some who have perished were true pioneers exploring the unknown, therefore I am deeply grateful to their contribution. They made the rest stronger and more adapted.

Potential Causes of accidents

There is no single cause for accidents.

In the current flow of information, there seems to be an obsession to obtain an incessant supply of unique causes for complex problems. If it does not fit in the size of a Twit or news headline, we tend to skip it. We want simple reasons and it doesn’t always work like that.

Base Jumping is a complex activity that encompasses many factors such: aerodynamics, meteorological, material-related, training, community issues, individual factors, etc…

A simplistic approach to complex issues, from “hindsight”.


The following are some potential contributing factors:

-More accessibility to the sport. Back in the days, the average base jumper came from the skydiving environment. Although this was not always the case, the majority have had several years in the sport and generally speaking, they were experienced skydivers who learned to base jump after a long and deep search for knowledge and skills, usually through the guidance and supervision of a mentor. Nowadays, many jumpers want to skip the skydiving part, or use it as little as possible, to go directly or asap to the cheaper base jumping playground.

Under the current scenario, at exit points we mostly find two well-defined jumper profiles:

  • The impulsive, influential, shortcut takers, impatient, who take risks without understanding the consequences and who never overcome the phase of Unconscious Incompetence (do not know what they do not know), producing the majority of accidents and magnifying statistics.


  • The calculators, pioneers of the activity and progress seekers, who follow an adequate progression. Those who push the limits assuming calculated risks, understanding and accepting the consequences, doing everything they can to understand and mitigate them, thoroughly, through quality training and calculated exposure.

-We are generally over-exposed. Base Jumping is addictive and we want more and more, especially in the beginning.

Both types of participants, the impulsive and the calculators, are at risk of injury and death when exploring the limits of extreme skills. However, the second group – the most adapted – have developed the set of skills to handle the situation in a broader, longer-term context, finding the perfect balance in stress (risk) exposure. The dose makes the poison and kills (hormesis), due to over-exposure but also due to under-exposure.

The calculators have learned to process the information and see the big picture, instead of being driven by the here and now. They understand the activity as the last link within a multidisciplinary conceptual framework.

The first profile, the impulsive,  is not necessarily stupid or a “bad apple” within a perfect system. This is an anachronistic vision called “The Bad Apple Theory” showing a lack of knowledge in the field of Safety Management.

In a recent activity emerging from collective intelligence, without rules beyond ethics, as it happens in  Base Jumping, it is unfair to blame the individual.

We are all responsible to a greater or lesser extent, or in other words, the system creates a bad container that rots apples “The Bad Barrel Theory”

Any of us uploading extreme videos have a certain degree of responsibility for the accidents of the more vulnerable followers.

Aviation without being true aviators

Base Jumping, especially wearing a Wingsuit, is aviation, although we still do not treat it as such.

What we do is highly technical and requires a very high level of proficiency. We fly small combat fighters that glide like a brick, at heights and speeds that leave ridiculous margins.

We need to understand that Base Jumping and Wingsuit Flying are the last steps in a long human flight development process.



So now what?

The community learns.

There are large doses of practical intelligence in each of us and nobody in their right mind wants to die or stop doing the activity that drives them in life. Life is pretty damn good.

After two years of high mortality, 2015-2016, we could see that 2017 was a year with less than half of mortality. Weather might had to do, but I know quite a few jumpers who quitted and those staying were more conservative.

In 2018 there was a “rebound effect” and fatalities when up again. In 2019 mortality seems to be decreasing again.

Hopefully, at some point the Sine Wave representing mortality in time will look similar to this:

Fatalities VS Progress Sine wave graphic


We are improving, within natural cycles, and we are aware of it.

According to Google Trends, Wingsuit extreme videos scratching treetops no longer arouse the same interest as in the years of accidents and morbidity (2015-2016).

Base Jumping influencers understand that Educational videos and quality training materials are necessary and appreciated to progress, as can be seen in this video by Ellen and Matt.

Paradoxically, the internet brings intrusion and inappropriate profiles, but it also contributes positively by making quality training material available to everyone, such as this page where a fighter pilot explains and deciphers the wingsuit flight from an aviation perspective.

Although we are still far away, as part of the evolutionary process, instructional programs that make sense begin to appear.

We should all contribute to making a better community. Base jumpers coming from climbing, alpinism,  the visionaries, the paragliders, the aviators…All have relevant knowledge and practice to add.

In my case, as a multi-discipline aviator, I suggest all my flying friends to see Base Jumping and Wingsuit Flying as the last step in a long human flight development process.

When a base jumper dies and is said to be an expert who had followed the proper progression, it is not entirely true.

In fact, it is almost entirely uncertain. He may have been an expert in a reduced base jump context, in which we have clung to insufficient standards.

The 200 skydives requirement is a poor and insufficient metric to establish the standards. It takes much more and definitely not just looking at figures.

Before performing a base jump – or wearing a wingsuit to base jump, you should be a competent multi-disciplinary aviator, dominating activities such as skydiving, paragliding, gliding, and aerobatics.

These activities allow us to train the necessary survival skills in a safer environment, improving our hand-eye and hand-foot coordination, energy management, perception of angles, speeds and situational awareness.

We gain knowledge, develop muscular memory, critical thinking and “Sense of the pants”.

Please watch this video of a glider flight lesson and skip through it.

Now look at this other wingsuit flight. (Im not criticizing it. I think it is awesome,amazing and the pilot deserves all my respect.)

Here is the point: both show aviators gliding without an engine, although in diametrically opposed scenarios.

In the first one, there seems to be a student training with an instructor who probably has hundreds or thousands of hours of flight time, in a two-seater, rigid-wing aircraft, with glide ratios probably around 1:30 to 1:50, and very low stall speeds. The maneuvering speed is fairly low, and there is plenty of height to play with. This translates into a large safety margin available to understand the “basic principles of flight”, in an environment that is almost slow-motion flying. Step by step, during several lessons it will go closer to the ground to end up soaring cliffs and mountain ridges.

In the second video, we can see the glide of a single-place, flexible-wing, aircraft, sustaining glide ratios around 1: 2 to 1: 4, and very high descend rate.  The maneuvering speed is high, stall speed is quite high too, and the available height is pretty low. This translates into a very small safety margin available to understand how flying works, in an environment that is on a continuous speed up or fast forward motion.

Complementary to what is thought in the base jumping environment, speed is a double-edged sword.

Speed ​​is our ally to the point where we stop being able to control it. Aircraft not only get to stall at low airspeeds, but they also go into high speeds stalls when the critical angle of attack is exceeded. We are facing a “coffin corner” scenario, by definition.

If we fly slowly we are screwed,  if we fly so fast that we compromise stability, we are screwed too. There is not much margin.

To survive these types of flights, in addition to tons of training, you need to be a gifted, as the pilot starring of the video (he is as brilliant as Marc Márquez, Sean Tucker or an acrobat from Cirque Du Soleil in their respective activities).

Like him there are a few, but only a few. In general, for the vast majority and even for him, this level of exposure is not “survivable” in the long run. He knows it, and we all know it.

In some places, you can fly on gliders at prices as low as $ 10 / hr, and even if it were more expensive, skimp on expenses on safety and training in such a demanding activity, it is as stupid as being on a budget when buying material. We depend on the material, there is no system redundancy as in other fields of aviation. Both are two of the main tools we have to save our lives.

And as with gliders, it happens with paragliding: cheap, accessible and very transferable to our activity.

Recommended progression within the conceptual framework of aviation

If we move base jumping and the wingsuit flying into the context of aviation, instead of simply 200 skydives, as many think, the progression that would make sense to me would become something similar to this:

-Aircraft Private Pilot (or ultralight). It will provide a solid theoretical basis. Principles of flight, aerodynamics, meteorology, etc … in addition to coordination in three dimensions (in the car, for example, we have coordination and muscle memory but limited to two dimensions).

Upset, prevention and recovery training (basic acrobatics). Advanced aerodynamics,  all sorts of stalls and spins and safe recovery.

– Gliding Flight Course. Introduction to energy management. Coordination, speeds and angles.

-Paragliding course. Energy management under flexible wings. Getting used to fly with your own bodyweight. Coordination, speeds and angles. Particularities of mountain flying.

-Skydiving. During the skydiving phase skills such as tracking, freefly and canopy piloting (swooping and precision) must be mastered (This means that in general, you should always be among the most prominent in the groups in which you move).  There are not a number of jumps, forget about that metric and think about mastering the activity. Take all the specific courses available, use the wind tunnel, both vertical and wingsuit tunel, and spend as much time as possible with the most adapted and most trained.

-Specific Base Jumping course, as shown here or here, and or guided supervision of at least 2 years by a mentor.

(In addition, you should have basic notions of climbing, mountaineering, and first aid).

If all of this seems expensive and complex, let’s think about the amount of money and time wasted from day 1 of our lives until the day of the premature and foreseeable final accident. Everything goes to waste, since we can not continue flying, nor can we do anything else compatible with life. Game over -> Bad investment.

I anticipate that some might say:  Bla Bla Bla,  that is bullshit, I know jumpers who have not done any of that and not only survive but are among the best in sport!

Well, that might be true. I also know some people who got to 90 years smoking 2 packs of cigarettes per day or being heavy drinkers.

They have survived despite those behaviors, not thanks to those behaviors.


Investing in Safety and Training is the best investment we can make if we engage in these types of activities.

Only through education, continuous improvement and example, we will be able to progress towards a safer and less deadly system.

Otherwise, through excessive regulations, norms and restrictions we might get short term results, but in the long run, we would inevitably end up losing the essence of our activity, pushing boundaries, collective intelligence and natural selection, which are the drive of progress and evolution.

Without pushing limits, there is no evolution, at least in the activities I have practiced.

Let’s push in a wise-ish manner!





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