It’s not hard.

Read blogger Joe Nesbitt’s reality checking post to gain perspective on your life’s challenges.


Sometimes I think we lose perspective in life on what hard truly is. Recently I was having what I thought was a bad week. Things just kept going wrong and to say I was discouraged would be an understatement. Someone close to me reminded me it could be worse – I could be a homeless Syrian refugee getting ready for an extremely difficult winter. It really got me thinking that all too often we think things are “hard” when they really aren’t. I often hear others complain about mundane things being hard, and to be honest, catch myself doing it as well. Maybe its time to get our perspective back and set the record straight.

Dieting and eating healthy isn’t hard, working out and being fit isn’t hard, making time to do what you enjoy isn’t hard. These things might be challenging and take some dedication but they aren’t hard…

View original post 92 more words

Q & A Bridge Day 2015: It’s All About That Bridge, About That Bridge, About That Bridge

This article consists of answers given through interviews with the representatives of The Bridge Day Commission, West Virginia Law Enforcement, West Virginia Department of Highways and Bridge Day Rappel Coordinator.

Bridge Day 2015 is around the corner and yet BASE jumpers are still speculating over the controversial fingerprint scans.  This bickering has caused a division in the community itself. Some jumper’s who normally attend are opting out to avoid controversy and backlash from fellow jumper’s in the community.

For every BASE jumper out there who is calling for legalized BASE in the United States, this is a public relations nightmare.  BASE jumping at The Bridge Day event, which is in it’s 36th year is an easy jump for veteran jumpers and holds little significance in their journals and not worthy of their travel time, I have been told.  To other jumper’s it’s the annual “get together” with friends. For many skydivers transitioning into BASE this was and will be the site of their first jump. For Carl Boenish, the Father of BASE, this is a dream turned reality.  Base jumpers leaping from the bridge to the cheers of the crowd while camera’s record the event for history. 

When I write public relations nightmare, I am referring to all the press coverage and social media chatter given to the boycotting of the event in 2015.  There were plans of hosting an event in Twin Falls Idaho with the West Virginia event that has fallen by the wayside.  

Twin Falls Chamber of Commerce member Shawn Barigar through a shared Facebook post on The Other Bridge page stated, “The Twin Falls Area Chamber of Commerce is more than willing to aid with coördination and connection of local services, organizations, ect.  We are in the process of moving into our new offices and Visitor Center at the canyon rim-soon to be complete with expanded grassy areas (and hopefully some shade by Spring) for BASE jumpers.  Looking forward to do what we can to aid you and to help our community continue to prosper!”

Not long after, a couple of poorly planned jumps and serious incidents had the Twin Falls Area Chamber of Commerce taking a step back from Barigar’s statement.  Which came to a relief to some of the local jumper’s who feared a surge of unsupervised jumpers converging in Twin Falls would cause more friction with the local citizenry then good for the cause of legalized BASE nationally.  There were rumblings coming out of Twin Falls expressing that the bridge could be shut down completely and calls for jumper’s to “get it together”.

Now I ask you, if that is all it took for the Chamber Of Commerce of Twin Falls to take a step back from a “festival”,  why would you raise your middle finger and send a message to the people of Fayette County, West Virginia to “fuck off” without any concrete information in hand?

In the history of BASE at The Bridge Day Festival there have been three deaths during Bridge Day due to accidents involving BASE jumpers:

  • In 1983, Michael Glenn Williams from Birmingham, Alabama, drowned when his gear was caught in the current after he made a successful jump. The one rescue boat that was in the river at the time was busy with other jumpers, and could not make it to him. In later years, more than one rescue boat was always used, and parachutists were not allowed to jump until it was confirmed that one of the rescue boats was available.[5][6]
  • In 1987, Steven Gyrsting of Paoli, Pennsylvania, jumped using gear that was not BASE-specific gear and was killed after he was unable to open his reserve chute in time when his main chute failed to deploy.[5]
  • During the 2006 festival, Brian Lee Schubert died when he failed to deploy his parachute in time.[7][8] In 1966, he had been one of the first to BASE jump from El Capitan in Yosemite National Park.

At no point has the commission EVER consider removing BASE as one of the events at the festival, per BDC Chairperson Sharon Cruishank.  In fact, after the 2006 death of Brian Lee Schubert, jumping resumed after the removal of the body.

 They have supported BASE for 35 years at the festival and now it appears a number of jumpers in this generation in a group gesture told the commission to “fuck off” due to new legal guidelines the commission must follow in order to host the festival.

When background checks were implemented after 9/11, did jumpers walk away, no,  the numbers continued to surge.  No doubt due to the trust in Vertical Visions, the then coordinator,  assuring the jumpers that their information would not fall into the hands of law enforcement or the National Park Service.  The fact of the matter is all those hundred’s of pieces of paper with each jumper’s personal data was turned into the Sheriff’s office and returned at a later date for the BD BASE coordinator to file & maintain.


When this is pointed out to jumper’s the most steadfast reply is, “they make money off us jumping”.  Actually they do not make money off the jumper’s registration fee as it goes directly to the BASE coordinator.  The standard fee set by the Bridge Day Commission for participants whether BASE or Rappelling is $15 per participant.  In the case of Vertical Visions, they cut a deal, that not all the Bridge Day commission members were unaware of, in which they were only paying $10 per participant.  So from the fee you paid to jump, only $10 goes to commission fund to cover costs of the festival.  Do local businesses make money off your utilizing their services/products, yes, and they also make money off every tourist who visits the area during Bridge Day and throughout the other 364 days of the year.

You can read the contract between the BASE coordinator, the latest being, Vertical Visions and the Bridge Day Commission here.  You can read the entirety of email conversations between Chairperson Cruishank and Vertical Visions here.
Communications with the Bridge Day Commission are public domain)

Noted by Cruishank: the BDC provides the porta potty, buses for the jumpers,  security, medical & rescue teams and infrastructure.

The BASE coordinator is responsible for the cost of insurance (unable to get quote) for the event and the permit to jump from the National Park Service. ($2500.00) and can use vans while charging a fee for transportation.

Which is the cost of doing business and yes, Vertical Vision’s is a business just as prior coordinating businesses.  This is not a thankless job performed by a Bridge Day volunteer, but rather a paying job.   The job entailing registering, turning in background checks into the sheriff’s police, maintaining those records for later use, working with the NPS on setting up a landing area and coordinating the jumpers on & off the bridge on the day of the event.

The BASE coordinator is privy to sponsorship money or product as well as the Bridge Day Commission during the event.

Let’s take a look at general numbers.  If there are 300 BASE participants and the fee is, $89.00, (none of the jumpers I asked for last years cost had the information as they jumped for free.  Two jumpers confided in me, Vertical Visions provided free jumping to staff and friends)  minus the $3000.00 to the BDC savings fund, the $2500.00 for the permit and then let’s guess, $1000.00 for insurance; give the BASE coordinating company a profit of $20,111.00. Deduct the cost of 300 t-shirts at a cost of $4.00 a shirt and  pizza for the jumpers meeting. (The cost of insurance, t-shirts and pizza is estimated as the Bridge Day Commission does not have those numbers.)

There is a reason The Bridge Walk businesse continue to apply for the contract year after year, as  Benjy Simpson, the Rappelling coordinator for Bridge Day says, “It’s a good business venture”.   Benjy was thrilled to learn of the new scanner background checks opposed to the previous paper forms.  He always felt uneasy about having to hold on to people’s confidential highly sensitive data for years on end.  Now with the scanners doing the quick checks, no need to hold onto paperwork for when the Bridge Day Commission or Sheriff’s office requests it at a later date.  (Cruishank has stated the Bridge Day Commission has never requested the information and can not speak for her counterparts at law enforcement or the National Park Service.)


Organizing the jumpers on & off the bridge on the day of the event, coordinating with the NPS on the landing area and enlisting other volunteers.  The Bridge Day Commission is covering the costs of permits, insurance, BASE BBQ party, t-shirts through local business sponsorship’s.  They have gone above and beyond this year with gift bags for the jumpers attending to show their appreciation for those jumpers continuing the tradition of BASE at Bridge Day.


*Information provided through interview with West Virginia State Police Sergeant Kenny Tawes, West Virginia Law Enforcement Communications Representative, Rick Nissel, West Virginia Department of Highways, Don Meadows and Morphotrust technology representative Joe Flynn.

There seems to be a misconception about the background scanners and their purpose.  I spoke with West Virginia State Police Sergeant Kenny Tawes, West Virginia Law Enforcement Communications Representative, Rick Nissel and Morphotrust technology representative Joe Flynn to get my education on all things scanner.  Sergeant Tawes admitted they had no information on the scanners, because they had never laid hands on them; Bridge Day will be the first time his people will use them.  

The Safran Morpho Trak Morphodant does NOT capture fingerprints, nor store them on servers.  No personal information is entered into the scanner, therefore fingerprint scans are useless except for the intent to check the database for previously registered individuals.  A fingerprint scan is DOES NOT capture fingerprints. The scanner connects to a PC in order for it to access the CJIS database only.  Again, no fingerprints are captured, this is not a function of  this particular SCANNER.

Do Safran Morpho Trak manufacturer devices to capture fingerprints?  Of course, if you are ever arrested and booked you will most likely have the pleasure of entering your data and prints into it for the database.  The device is far larger and not for handheld use.

The question at hand is, “Would you prefer to complete a paper background check with your name, date of birth, social security and emergency contact information to the Sheriff’s office? (and then have that paper out there in a file cabinet or box at someone’s home) or Scan your fingerprint with no identifying data?”

BASE jumpers and Rappelers are required to show their ID to check it against the participant lists, they will then move on to scan their fingerprint.  If you are not a registered sex offender, known terrorist or associate of terrorists your prints will not be confirmed.  The extradition of people wanted on warrants between states is almost non-existent.  Unless you are a felon on the run, the issuing state is not going to travel to West Virginia to pick you up according to West Virginia State Police Sgt. Tawes.

The fact is in today’s world, Google has more information on who you are, where you live, where you travel, your spending habits, who you’re are related to, who you work with, who your friends & neighbors are and everything you have ever posted or searched for online.   I spoke recently to a Chicago Law Enforcement official who owns a detection dog business that provides security to Amtrak trains and Solider Field in Chicago, IL.   He informed me that Walmart is one of the top corporations for collecting data and tracking people who frequent their stores.  Think about it, Walmart.

When I asked West Virginia, Police Sgt. Tawes about the state police’s role in the paper background checks previously utilized, he replied, “There was none, the West Virginia State Police have never seen the background checks, we have no interest in collecting, processing or storing all that paperwork.  The West Virginia State Police have more than enough to do day in and day out without being concerned about BASE jumping.  We provide security for Bridge Day, not security for BASE jumpers, rappellers or vendors, but Bridge Day as a whole.  Our job is to keep everyone safe in a short period of time when participants, staff and spectators are at large numbers in a large area.”

The reason for the change in procedures is simple.  Technology and resources.  A FBI department audit uncovered the use of the 911 Call Center for running the BASE jumpers background checks.  These background checks are non-criminal in purpose and therefore cannot be processed by the center.  No one was reprimanded, no laws were broken, it was simply pointed out the 911 call center could no longer be used for this resource.  The best solution deemed by the Bridge Day Commission Security members is the scanner’s.  They are less invasive of privacy, they work efficiently and as with all modern computer technology, it takes less resources to process the scans.

I learned of another misconception being that the Bridge Day Commission is responsible for this decision, alluding they have authority over the FBI, Homeland Security, State and County Law Enforcement and Department of Highways when setting the guidelines for security at the bridge.  All of those agencies coordinate to keep not only the participants safe, but all of the spectators as well.  The later being the main concern as the number of people walking freely outnumbers the participants cornered off in their designated area.

I spoke with  Benjy Simpson, the Rappelling coordinator for Bridge Day, he  operates the Bridge Walk throughout the year and is a resident of Oak Hill, West Virginia.  He explained the event is no small feat,  that in the case of Fayetteville, orchestrating this one day event includes a re-routing of traffic 45 miles out past the Fayetteville exchange for tractor trailer traffic or a 30 minute detour for local traffic. “Highway 19 is closed down. It’s not just about town traffic being disrupted during the event, but tractor-trailers running routes on the highway system.  The highways connected with the New River Gorge Bridge enabled commerce traffic to run from Florida, up the East coast and into Canada.  The bridge is considered a historical site for it’s role in changing the flow of commerce traffic in the region.  Halting traffic for this event  is a major undertaking, as is returning the bridge to it’s functionality by  5 pm that day.”

In summation, The Bridge Day Commission doesn’t have the authority to close the bridge causing a re-routing traffic, the rules set forth by the West Virginia Department of Highways, (Don Meadows, West Virginia Department of Highways) West Virginia State Police and the FBI govern the use of the bridge.  As Sharon Cruikshank  points out, “no one on the Bridge Day Commission is sitting around looking for ways to make this a more monumental task than it already proves to be.  In fact we have an open door policy to anyone who wants to volunteer or has real solutions to problems.”

Yes, all those departments are present on the bridge during the event, as well as K9 detection dogs, trained in explosive detention, along with camera surveillance.

“Why do participants have to be background checked and not the spectators?”

The rule is anyone entering the Bridge prior to the security gates opening at 9:00 am,  MUST submit to a background check.  This includes the participants, vendors, staff and volunteers.

For spectators: (reprinted from The Bridge Day website)

  • NO Dogs.
  • NO Backpacks, coolers, folding chairs or large handbags.
  • NO Bicycles, skates, skateboards, strollers or wagons.
  • NO Weapons, Fireworks, Illegal Drugs, or Alcoholic Beverages.
  • NO Quadcopters.

The spectators enter through gates where law enforcement personal are stationed as well as immersed among the crowd.  The spectators are not allowed to bring anything with them that could possibly be seen as a concealed weapon or explosive devices. Metal detection wands are used along with K9 detection dogs at the gate.  The K9 dogs are then walked through the crowds on the bridge in shifts by their handlers.

If a BASE jumper would like to enter through the gates at 9:00 a.m. foregoing the background scan, they may do so.  However they will be required to unpack their rig for inspection.  It is considered a backpack/large bag.  If you want to do this and then pack your chute, then get in line to jump; by all means inform the coordinator. (Note: this has always been an option at Bridge Day since the inception of background checks stated Bridge Day Chairperson Sharon Cruikshank and reiterated by WVSP Sgt. Tawes)

Why did  The Bridge Day Commission vote  to allow background checks via a third-party?  “When I learned the policy had changed and background checks would no longer be able to be submitted to the 911 Call Center, I called a good friend of mine who manages the summit for the Boy Scouts.  Here I was telling him he couldn’t do background checks and he informs me, the Boy Scouts have always used a third-party company.  You learn something new everyday if you keep asking the question.”, Cruikshank shared.

As for the jokes about terrorist, an anonymous source informed me law enforcement has more arrests/stops of terrorist both foreign and home-grown across this nation, then the public will ever hear about.   Laugh all you want, however law enforcement officials tasked with the trust of the people, take their job seriously whether you do or not.  A suggested reasoning of why law enforcement officials are short worded, “bossy”, and not friendly is a fallout of being on duty and not wanting an attack to take place on their watch, explained my source.

I inquired with Sgt. Tawes about why more K9’s are not used to sniff the participants as well as the spectators.  The answer is, there are simply not enough dogs trained to do searches.  K9  detection dogs don’t just happen overnight and the number of them in service is not as large as you may presume. Most K9 Detection dogs are generally utilized  by state and federal agencies.  K9 Narcotic dogs are not the same as K9 Explosive dogs, K9 Arson Dogs, K9 Search and Rescue dogs, K9 Cadaver dogs, ect.  They are highly trained for a specific skill set and they must work in shifts during an event like Bridge Day as the dogs tire quickly from working.

As for bringing in outside K9 agencies, if the participants want to cover the exorbitant cost and lobby the federal government to allow it; you have an uphill battle with a slim chance of success. The West Virginia State Police, Homeland Security or the FBI is investing time on the idea as they already know the answer.  There is not one security company that could offer the number of dogs needed to cover the expanse of Bridge Day or the number of people present.  Which by the way was one of the suggestions made by the Bridge Day Commission to their Security Committee and State Police.  It’s was a no go.


Information provided through an interview with National Park Service Law Enforcement Specialist and Advisory Member of the Bridge Day Commission, Chuck Noll.

I contacted the National Park Service (NPS), Law Enforcement Specialist and advisory member of the Bridge Day Commission, Chuck Noll.  I asked  Mr. Noll about the alleged complaints by the jumpers in regards to harassment by Park Rangers and if there was any truth to the allegations of a “jumper list” being kept in a safe at the ranger’s office.

After he finished laughing he responded, “the jumper list is a great story if you’re into conspiracy theories, but it’s just not true.  As far as rangers hassling jumpers to deter them from attending Bridge Day, that’s ridiculous.  Let me tell you about two jumpers from several years ago that the NPS rangers dealt with during the Bridge Day weekend.  The two jumpers were caught jumping prior to Bridge Day in another area of the park. They were charged and then released to jump the next day at the event.  Why would we do that if we didn’t want jumpers coming to the area and taking part in the event?”  

I asked him if the jumpers gear was confiscated and or returned.  “Yes they had their gear returned to them, following their court appearance.  They went before a federal judge who fined them the equivalent of a high cost speeding ticket. They are welcome to again return this year to jump at the event.” He continued, “ We have no desire to prevent jumpers from attending the Bridge Day event.  If there was any truth to the talk of the NPS not wanting jumpers, then a permit would not be issued. The NPS has never denied issuing the permit or attempted to persuade the Bridge Day commission to not host BASE jumping at the event.  I sit on the Bridge Day Commission in an advisory role.  The NPS does not get a vote on the board’s actions.  I am there to answer questions regarding NPS policy, that’s it.”

I asked Mr. Noll,  if he had read any of the posts by Jason Bell and other poster’s at regarding the before mentioned allegations.  “I have heard about it. The thing that surprises me is that the NPS has always had a cordial working relationship with Jason (Bell) over the past 10 years.  He never challenged the NPS policies, he followed the rules & regulations in setting the landing area and was always the most safety conscious BASE coordinator at the event.  Jason is all about safety.  In Jason’s event review  he would always write thank you’s to the NPS, we never heard any of these allegations.  I am again surprised that Jason has taken this path and come out against the NPS and Bridge Day when in the past he was always cordial”.


Referenced by data provided by Bridge Day Commission Chair, Sharon Cruikshank.

August 2014: Bridge Day Security Committee set up a meeting for September 3, 2014 to research options for background checks.

September 17, 2014: Sergeant Tawes of the West Virginia State Police reported that they are looking at a different way to do security checks for next year. Motion made to table the RFPS for BASE & Rappel until after Bridge Day 2014. (RFP= Request for Proposal)

October 2014:  2014 Bridge Day Base coordinator, Jason Bell announces to the attending BASE jumpers that a change is in the works.  One option put forth was the use of fingerprint scanners which would be manned by the West Virginia State Police.  The jumpers at the meeting respond by giving the Bridge Day Commission the finger gesture to “fuck off”.  Jason Bell then posts this photo on his Bridge Day Info. website to send a clear message to the Bridge Day Commission.

At this point the West Virginia State Police only suggestion to the Bridge Day Commission is the use of the scanners as it’s their belief it is the most efficient and least invasive of people’s privacy.  Taking into account ALL the individuals who are required to have security checks, i.e., Bridge Day staff & volunteers, Base company staff & participants, Vendor Staff, and Rappelling company staff & participants.  Less invasive and more efficient, was the way to go.  It removed the burden of the coordinators collecting personal information from participants, the 911 Call center processing the hundred’s of checks and then storing that paperwork for years to come.  For Benji Simpson, there is a concern that the personal data could fall into the wrong hands and hundred’s of people’s information will be up for grabs for identity theft.

November 2014:  The Bridge Day Commission during this meeting directed Chairperson Cruikshank to update the RFP for BASE & Rappel with the bio-metric scan and not the paper background info. On  Nov 6, 2015 the assistant at the Fayette County Chamber who served as the Bridge Day Chair resigned her position and left the chamber in December. Cruikshank is reappointed  Bridge Day chair on November 7, 2014 by the Fayette County Commission. 

It was at that time, Vertical Vision’s instructed Cruikshank to pull their application for BASE coordinator for the years 2015-2018. She obliged the request, and the commission viewed their relationship ended. The Comission moved forward with securing a BASE coordinator and planning the 2015 festival. 

January 2015: The security committee reported to the Bridge Day Commission on the use of  bio-metric scans and the Bridge Day Commission adopts the bio-metric as a  less intrusive method of processing security checks.  

Jason Bell the owner of Vertical Visions continued to email the chair as a supporter of Bridge Day and friend who meant no animosity.  Chairperson Cruikshank replied to Jason Bell saying they have moved on, as should he. You can read her email here.

March 2015:  Base jumper, Mark Kissner takes on the role of Volunteer BASE coordinator for Bridge Day 2015 and BASE jumper, Marcus Ellison takes up an advisory role with the Bridge Day Commission.

Facts to consider when viewing the relationship between the Bridge Day Commission and Vertical Visions as laid out by Bridge Day Commission Chairperson Sharon Cruikshank.

  • Vertical Visions had a cordial relationship with the Bridge Day Commission, not a face to face let’s work together relationship. 
  • Vertical Vision’s posted a photo to their website in October of 2014, depicting BASE jumpers at a meeting showing the finger gesture for “fuck off”.  The Bridge Day Commission took that as a precursor to their relationship end with Vertical Visions.  Vertical Visions contract had ended at the completion of 2014 Bridge Day.
  • Vertical Vision’s  attended the following meeting’s according to the meeting minutes during their three year contract: July 2014, Oct 15, 2014. June 2013, Aug 2013, Oct 9 2013. May 2012 and Oct 3 2012. There were 9 meeting’s held in 2014.
     Meeting’s can be attended by a representative of the contracted parties or even teleconferenced for those outside Fayetteville. According to Mrs. Cruikshank, the BASE jumpers voices were not being heard, because they had no representation at the meetings. 
  • Vertical Vision’s, President Jason Bell, penned a email to the board, dated, January 21, 2015, stating he was not able to attend the meeting.  Read it here.

Sharon Cruikshank has gone on the record to state once Mr. Bell posted the photo of the jumpers exhibiting the “fuck you” hand gesture, the relationship had already begun to deteriorate on both sides; despite his calling her a “friend” and attempting to help with his council in emails.

The pre-Bridge Day October 2014 meeting was the last time they had any face to face discussions with Bell representing Vertical Visions.  Chairwoman Cruikshank has also gone on to state, “She has never had any discussions or has it been brought before the board that Fayetteville work with the BASE community to set up 365 days of jumping.”   If such a discussion had taken place it would be recorded in the meeting minutes or archived in emails, it is NOT.  “There is no working relationship, if one of the parties is not present at the table.  Vertical Vision’s was not present at the meeting’s and therefore could not be called upon for input.  Nor were they being viewed any longer in a role of representing the BASE community.”

After being contacted by Mark Kissner, a BASE jumper from Maryland, whom Cruikshank calls “a real knight in shining armor” and local jumper Marcus Ellison, who had a sit down meeting with the Chairperson Cruishank, it was determined to offer an optional third-party screenings.  If participants to pay the fee to have a background check run by a third-party, law enforcement will consider the requirement met.   The State Police are offering FREE fingerprint scans which they feel are less invasive into a person’s personal data for those who are open to the change.

I have chatted with Mark Kissner via online messenger, he has stated he stepped up to keep the lines of communication open and hopefully provide insight to the commission to make sure BASE remains a part of Bridge Day.  He foresees Marcus Ellison taking on the role of adviser to the Bridge Day Commission for the upcoming year or two.  He has put all the social media and forum grumbling behind him, commenting that he doesn’t bother to read the posts any longer as he has work to do on the event.  If someone wants to give and volunteer to help with Bridge Day 2015 he is open to talk. 

Alan Lewis is also looking to the future and asking everyone to give the name calling and “fuck you’s” shouted out the Bridge Day Commission a rest.  He had this to say about his relationship with Cruikshank at this point, “I spoke with her on the phone and we talked about starting a new relationship. I apologized to her on my part for the anger and taking all of this out on her.  She accepted and agreed that we will work together to resolve and grow from all of this.”  

Lewis stated the boycott was about wanting a place at the table to bring about 365 days of BASE at the New River Gorge.  When he learned the truth about the fingerprint scanners, as well as other information, his stance against the commission itself softened to the point he is ready to work together to find solutions. Lewis has joined the all volunteer BASE jumping staff at Bridge Day 2015 and is looking forward to a great time.

Lewis, Ellison, and Cruikshank have already discussed working together to explore BASE jumping at the New River Gorge 365 days a year as Cruikshank holds a board member position on Bridge Day Commission, the Chamber of Commerce of Fayette County board and is a Fayetteville councilwoman.  “I have told Marcus I would gladly write letters to State and National Representatives in favor of  BASE jumping 365 days a year at New River Gorge.

I understand it’s been good for Twin Falls while the BASE community has worked to build a relationship with the chamber and law enforcement.  We, the chamber of Fayette County are always looking for ways to bring in more businesses.  I don’t think anyone in Fayetteville is against growth, it will take everyone sitting down at the table and resolving whatever challenges there might be.  I can’t speak for the West Virginia State Police or the National Park Service.  I can only speak for myself and I fully support having these discussions.”

As explained to me by one jumper, “The Bridge Day Festival is more than BASE jumping and the fact is, people who come to the Bridge during the event to watch the jumps, don’t care if it’s 300 jumper’s each making 1-2 jumps, or 150 jumpers make 2 to 3 jumps. They are there for the spectacle of watching the jumpers leap into the air and fly their chutes down to the landing area.”

Before researching all this information, a close friend and jumper wrote to me,  “Show me the facts, I pride myself on being able to change my mind when presented the facts.”  He went on to say, “Jason never spoke for me, nor do Alan, Mark or Marcus.  I am a BASE jumper, I jump where I chose, it’s at the core of BASE, the freedom to make our own choices.”

This  sentiment is voiced Cruishank herself, “The door is open, the welcome mat is out, if BASE jumper’s want to come to Bridge Day we’ll be here.  If they chose not to attend, I’m okay with that, the town is okay with that, but they must recognize that it is their choice.

The jump pass cost is lowered in 2015 as one of the ways to say thank you to the jumper’s who are standing by the people of Fayette County and the festival.  The same reason there are swag bags for the jumpers and a BBQ, all part of saying “thanks for choosing to attend Bridge Day.”

In closing I will share a post by DeadMike Vederman, who granted me permission to do so.

DeadMike Vederman: In the end, Bridge Day is one out of 365 days and represents a divergence from the normal BASE routine, for most if not all. It certainly is ‘the place’ for worldwide BASE jumpers to gather and enjoy each others company each year. It is that camaraderie (and 876′) which give the day particular significance, but for your average BASE jumper, the other 364 days are what keep them going throughout the year.

For people like me, with only one Bridge Day jump, it was most amazing and I was entirely thankful for everything there. It truly sounds like next year will work out better if the alternate background check holds through and they figure out how to do that reliably, it may be possible that ‘late on-site’ registrants will be required to use another verification method? In any case, let’s all survive til 2016 to be one again.

Authors Note:  The Bridge Day Commission turned over all their emails, contracts, receipts of payment, meeting dates/minutes and were forthcoming with answers to my inquires; they want the truth out there as they live it.  They refuse to mud sling on forums, social media or in print media, but they will share hard cold numbers and documented facts. 

I did the hours of research and interviews with people involved with Bridge Day 2015 at the urging of a circle of BASE jumpers with whom I share a mutual respectful friendship.

The people involved in Bridge Day were  transparent in their conversations and repeated over and over the sentiment that the Bridge Day Festival is more than BASE jumping.

Everyone involved has many more tasks and priorities than the BASE jumpers.  The self-centered view that BASE jumpers deserve privileges over other participants or that they are a target of “the man” is ludicrous in my educated opinion.  Base jumpers are no more or no less on the radar than any other person who will attend a sporting event, entertainment venue or large public assembly in this nation. Full Stop.

When I asked Rappelling Coordinator Benjy Simpson how the news went over with his participants he explained, “I attended the board meetings, I asked questions, waited for answers and shared the information with my people.  I didn’t wage a war where there was no battle to be fought.”

“Wise men speak because they have something to say; Fools because they have to say something.”Plato

NOTE:  I am no stranger to hearing stories from attending BASE jumpers who felt law enforcement overstepped their authority in dealing with jumpers.  If you have a complaint at the event,  report it to their superiors, the Bridge Commission, The BASE coordinator, ect.  If you have a legitimate compliant, the powers that be wish to resolve it then and there according to Sgt. Tawes.

As to the jumpers who talk about the steady decline over the past years in their experience at Bridge Day, The Bridge Day Commission encourages you to attend commission meetings to offer up constructive solutions.  You are cordially  invited by Chairperson Cruishank to be part of the change and give BASE jumpers a voice at the table.

Burning Man/2015: One Man’s Perspective

If you have ever spoken to a friend, family member or associate who has just arrived home from the week long experience; they you are familiar with the natural high that is achieved.

A fellow blogger, Joe Nesbitt, who travels the world Base Jumping, Skydiving, and fine dining has put his thoughts on the burning of The Lotus at this year’s event.

The interesting thing about this post is that it comes not from a person who has moments of clarity out on the edge all the time.  His senses are heightened during a jump and the natural high that follows is nothing new.

However, as is the case with many, The Burning Man experience leaves you with a natural high and feelgood attitude long after you have come down.  It changes people’s perspectives on their lives, their relationships and the world in general.

If you need the motivation to attend next years event, read Joe’s blog and then begin planning to snag those ever so elusive BM tickets come next year.

You can find Joe’s blog here.  I suggest you subscribe to catch all his future posts.

The photo is courtesy of Andrey Karr, Burning Man, The Lotus, 2015

Bridge Day 2015

WV Bridge Day

WV Bridge Day

I set out a month ago to write an article about the injustices being placed upon BASE jumpers, Vendors and Rappellers at the West Virginia Bridge Day Festival.  I did so at the request of my good friend, Alan Lewis who was leading a boycott of the event by BASE jumpers via social media.  I interviewed Alan for his reasoning of the boycott and what he had hoped to do in the long run for BASE.

I wrote an article that basically asked the question, “Did the BDC live under a rock?  How could they insist on fingerprinting people?  What had this nation become when such invasions of privacy are becoming acceptable and the norm?”

I turned the article into Lara Kjeldsen, the co-founder and editor of Blue Skies Magazine for consideration for publication.  It was returned to me stamped, “rejected”.  The notations explained it read as if I was being bias and overly supportive of the BASE jumping community without speaking to the other parties involved.  I had place a call to the BDC, but hadn’t heard back, so I assumed they had “no comment”.  I was wrong.

In truth, they were waiting to hold this months BDC meeting to revise the options for security checks and wanted to be able to give me updated information.

Turned out everything I had read or been told via social media, or by jumpers, everything that had been explained to Alan  or read, really wasn’t the truth of the matter.  

When I confronted Alan with the documents, the cold hard truths, I asked him if he thought I should just kill the article.

He replied, “No, the truth has to come out.  The BASE community will be better off in knowing the truth and can move forward in building a relationship with the BDC.”

Here is a snippet of what’s to come  in the May issue of Blue Skies Magazine.

According to the BDC, Vertical Horizons only communicated twice with them in an email  back in January 2015 requesting the withdrawal of the company’s application as BD BASE coördinator and an email asking for information on the scanner.

Sharon Cruikshank has gone on the record to state once Mr. Bell posted the photo of the jumpers exhibiting the “fuck you” hand gesture, the relationship had already begun to deteriorate.  A October 2014 meeting was the last time they had any face to face discussions with Bell.  Director Cruikshank has also gone on record to state, “She has never had any discussions or has it been brought before the board that Fayetteville work with the BASE community to set up 365 days of jumping.”   If such a discussion had taken place it would be recorded in the meeting minutes or archived in emails.

She further provided BDC meeting minutes showing that Vertical Horizon’s failed to attend the board meetings as specified in their contract.  “There is no communication if one of the parties is not present at the table.”, she clearly pointed out.

BASE, Rappelling, Staff and Vendors personal data was collected background checks , then turned over to the 911 call center to be processed and the files stored and retained by the respective coördinator’s.

At no time was the BDC, WV State Police, NPS or other coordinators privy to that each others data.  The contract between the coördinator and the BDC gives specific directions on the handling of background checks and no where do they ask for participants personal information collected by the coördinator. They only give instruction to provide it to the 911 call center/sheriff for processing.

I interviewed Benjy Simpson, the owner of the Bridge Walk and coördinator for Rappelling at the event.  He says, “he has never been asked to turnover personal data collected on participants, other than to the sheriff’s 911 call center to process the security checks”.

He made the point that if agencies didn’t want BASE jumpers at the event, they could merely not schedule BASE, the NPS could deny the permit and put an end to it just like that. He suggested, “For anyone to think BASE jumping is profitable for the BDC, you need to check your ego at the door and look at the big picture”.

“There are no lists of jumpers, there is no evil plot to harass jumper’s, it’s all just “urban myth” created by the jumper’s themselves, including Jason Bell”, he pointed out.

The BDC, WV State Police, NPS have all taken a beating on social media without firing a shot back as to not given validity to the statements being made.

However, now that the dust has cleared, they continue to work towards making BD a successful event this year; they granted me an extensive amount of their time in interviews and providing black and white data/information.

Be sure to check out the May issue of Blue Skies Magazine for my article, Bridge Day 2015: Communication Breakdown

Be kind to yourself and one another, Peace.

Cynthia Lynn

Quadriplegic’s Adventure Dream

Quadriplegic Pete Bonser,, has a dream to BASE JUMP. We intend to that dream come true and film a documentary.

About this project by Dr. Spatula

Pete’s dream is to go to the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls Idaho and make a BASE jump.

Sean Chuma of is donating his time to make this dream come true.

Because of Pete’s condition, and the amount of pain he is in, he cannot just get on a commercial flight or take a 12 hour road trip.

Most of this documentary will be made with donated time and resources but We need to cover the cost of using a Cessna 206 or better to transport Pete and a couple of caregivers as quickly as possible. We will start the adventure in Santa Rosa California, and document everything about the trip to Twin Falls, the set up, the jump, the people involved, and try to capture the feeling of a dream come true.

I am a pilot and will most likely be flying the plane myself.

Please visit

Risks and challenges

The largest obstacles right now are safely transporting Pete with minimal complications and designing and testing a custom harness to make sure the BASE jump goes without a problem.

A word from Sean Chuma:
I have had a huge vision for a while that is fueled by jumping and being part of the dreams of Lonnie Bissonnette, and by the spinal cord injury of one of my very best friends, Chris Scott. It is starting to become a reality by combining visions with Pete Bonser, a quadriplegic, who I will be taking on a Tandem Base jump on the weekend of April 18-19. This is the start of a whole program, I envision, to help people with spinal cord injuries, etc. experience the absolutely amazing activity of BASE jumping. Give someone a dream and they can take it farther to create miracles within, to change their life for the better. I see it, in a way, as a form of healing therapy. It is something that seemed impossible. Now it is going to become a reality. This is turning into something bigger than life. It’s a story unfolding and telling itself and manifesting through us. We are looking for financial help, so if you are able to help, we would be more grateful than we already are.

Limited Edition BASE tees by Silent Studio

The next design is ready for pre-order. ONLY 50 shirts will be available for purchase. Get yours now!

Order Here!


T-Shirt_MockUp_Moonlit-A-alt T-Shirt_MockUp_Moonlit-A-alt_Women T-shirt_Sizing_copy

Limited Edition BASE Tees by Silent Studio

Attention:  Only 50 will be printed.  Pre-orders are being taken, get your order NOW.

Click link to place order: Silent Studio


Coming Soon!    Like Silent Studio on Facebook, click link here.



My latest project is here: Pitties, Pistons, Pin-ups and a Promise


I have been on break from writing the past 4 months as I have been concentrating on a fundraising project in which I chaired.  The project consists of a hot calendar, cool t-shirt, a vintage classic cocktail party and an opportunity for a family portrait with the calendar photographer herself, Carolyn Lloyd of Carolyn Lloyd Photography.

Presenting: “Pitties, Pistons, Pin-ups and a Promise” for the benefit of Peace for Pits, Inc. a Chicagoland based rescue serving Illinois’s “bully breeds”.

Please consider a t-shirt or calendar purchase if you do not live in the Chicagoland area to attend the other scheduled events.

Thank you for supporting my writing efforts, but also my charity endeavors.

Warmest Regards,

Cynthia Lynn

Note: Calendars and T-shirts are only available for shipping in the United States.


2015 Calendar

2015 Calendar

Launch Party

Launch Party

Photo Session

Photo Session




You can call me Hankster.

My first BASE jumper interview was at the mercy of  Hank Caylor.  I titled the piece, “The Man, The Myth, The Legend” after hearing the story of his mishap about a jump gone bad with him crashing through a buildings window and taking the elevator down to the lobby.  That alone is legend worthy, but I soon discovered Mr. Caylor has building his legend since his first steps as a toddler.

From broken bones, to lacerations, to bruises and good old fashion scraps and minor burns he surpassed the amateur status in his early teen years.

A friend, the lovely and o’ so talented writer Annette O’Neil  posted a video clip of Caylor from one of his early films “The Sharp End” on Facebook today and it put me in the sharing mood.  Thanks Annette!


Extra featuring Hank Caylor from Sender Film’s “The Sharp End.” Sender Films has all rights to this video, please visit them at: Sender Films

You can check out my interview with Hank here.

All hail the man, the myth, the legend.


The Power of One: O Henry Part II

In part one of the series I introduced you to Henry’s introduction into Peace for Pits when he received a last hour reprieve sparing his life.  This week I sat down with the little fellow and he answered my questions regarding life beyond the cages of Chicago Animal Control and Care as he prepares for his forever family.

Peace for Pits, Inc. Henry

Peace for Pits, 
Henry enjoys his American Bagel bone

  Keep Calm Dog Name: Henry O’Henry Foster Guardian’s: Tom & Lisa Dog Age: 1 year Dog Breed: Pit Bull Mix Siblings: (human): Sage, 13, Amanda, 11 Harmony, 12 Classes attended/attending: will begin @ Narnia in April My nickname is: Hen  


We are family, I have all my fosters hanging with me.

The type of family I am searching for to share my life with will be available to spend generous amounts of time with me, offer lots of petting, attention, cuddle time and love.

When I grow up I want to be: a happy family dog with good manners.

My favorite place to sleep is: on the couch with foster momma, but then she puts me in my crate for the night. However, I would sleep in the big beds upstairs if they would invite me to do so.

Henry and Foster Dad Tom

Henry and Foster Dad Tom

My favorite holiday is: St Patricks Day because that’s my 1st family holiday after being released from dog jail.

My best friend is: Alexa, I liked her right away, her lap was mine.


Henry looking for a snack.

My favorite treat: carrots, spinach, olives, celery, cucumber, kale & lettuce.  I am a veggie dog, living green keeps the body clean and lean.

My favorite toy: tire

My favorite season of the year is: warm weather, not a fan of cold, rain nor heavy winds.

My favorite trip was when we went to: so far it’s been whenever Aunt Cyn takes me in the car into town to run errands.  My ultimate ride was when we  left the city on my FREEDOM ride. My favorite quote is: “This is Henry’s toy!” My favorite pastime activity: sitting- I love to just sit on my own & look at my family & say “look what a good boy I am!”


Henry sitting in his spot on the sofa

 I look really cute when I: hop toward my toys to fetch them, or run/gallop back with them in  my mouth to share with my family. The biggest mess I ever made was: a little puke in my crate, but I was careful to move my blanket out of the way & politely puke in just the little corner of crate. The first thing I ate that I wasn’t supposed to: shoes, but I just nibbled on them. The one time I was a hero was: staying alive on the streets as a stray and then surviving at the shelter until my freedom day. I am really good at: getting attention, just ask the neighbors and all my fosters friends.  Girls just can’t resist how handsome I am and ask to meet me and give me a petting.

Henry strutting his stuff

Henry strutting his stuff

I am sometimes afraid of: the dark, nighttime outside is scary, also an opossum or field mouse may startle me. The one thing I can’t resist is: snuggling on couch next to humans. 1964883_10200734549805914_865602595_n I think my siblings  are: Sage- loud & energetic, Amanda- loving & compassionate, Harmony- gentle & caring

Foster brother and Henry

Foster brother Sage and Henry

My toughest challenge so far has been: going back into the crate when my family leaves the house. Please share something that you learned from your dog and what they have meant to your family. We have learned that the negative stereotype about pit bulls are untrue and that Henry is a calm & gentle pup. He is very loving and makes a great addition to the family.  Henry enjoys joining in all family activities and wants to be in the thick of things constantly. How/Why the dog’s name was chosen: His name came about from the candy bar O’Henry which is chocolate and caramel. Also, because his foster Auntie’s said we’d be saying “O’Henry you’re too cute” or “O’Henry your’re so smart”, or “O’Henry you’re a little stinker”.  He loves his name, his ears perk right up when he hears it and he comes running when called.  Henry fits him perfectly. What is it about their particular breed that you are fond of? In Henry’s case, he is a pit bull mix.  He is on the smaller size at under 40 lbs, very intelligent, quick learner, loves the kids, mannered baby boy who has been a great family dog.  He has the build of his bigger family members but fits perfectly into our town home style living. Everything you love about the breed in a bite size package.

Henry sharing the sofa

Henry sharing the sofa

Thank you to Tom, Lisa and Henry for their participation in the interview.


If you are interested in adopting Henry, please complete an application on the Peace for Pits website, click here.

Henry begins his obedience training on April 1st, he will be attending a 6 week session In Home.

Women’s History Month

This singing legend didn’t go for any purse puppy breed as her canine companion.

Name this Lady and the breed of her furry friend in the comments section below.


(1946 photo released by the Library of Congress)

The Power of One : O’Henry

The Power of One is a series of articles about canines and the people who saved them. One person, at one moment can make all the difference to one animal.  The journey of a dog being rescued can be long, their path can be filled with many people taking on the role of that one person to assure they get their second chance at life.

Introducing A 102121: Part I

A 102121 used to identify him, PA028 is the kennel number he called home for the last days.  He arrived at Chicago Animal Care and Control on January 26, 2014 as a stray picked up in the Englewood (Chicago) neighborhood.

A 8 month old, brown Merle and White Pit Bull Terrier.  The percentages for A 102121 to receive a reprieve and second chance at life dropped with every turning of the calendars pages.

The reality is Pit Bull Terrier’s face discrimination through Breed Select Legislation (BSL), are saddled with a bad reputation through misrepresentation and suffer from over breeding due to ignorance of owners, backyard breeders and criminal enterprises.

A 102121 had the cards stack against him the minute he took his first breath in this world. He doesn’t know what Breed Specific Legislation (BSL) is, or why people fear him, or why his kind suffer abuse through forced breeding.  And he’ll never understand what enjoyment can possibly be derived from forcing brother to kill brother in a ring for money. Or the evil of torturing his sister until her body gives out and her last breath drawn.

He only knows unconditional love –  no different than any other of man’s furry best friends.  He wants to give out kisses, cuddle up close for comfort, feel your hand stroke the length of his back, or tickle his tummy with belly rubs.  He wants to have fresh water, food and a safe place to lay his head at night.  He lives to be your best friend, your loyal buddy, your guardian and companion without ever questioning gender, breed, financial potential or misgivings.

A 102121 went from “adoptable” to “death-row”.  Literally, he moved from one area of the shelter to another, just like the “big house” down in Joliet, Illinois.

The fine volunteers of the CACC transfer team had taken a liking to A 102121, as they do with all of the dogs they care for while pleading for rescues to come to their aid.

These people are the true warriors and heroes of rescue work in animal welfare. They are these dogs saving grace, the one person who uses their voice to start a dog on it’s journey to a second chance.  They are also the one person often to give a gentle touch or say a kind word to a dog whose second chance didn’t come. Bless you for all you do when so many others do not.

They saw potential in the small brown Merle & White Pittie named Ramon Rampage.  A Facebook plea went out by Peace for Pits rescue: “This brindle guy has 5 days to find a foster home or he’d be put to sleep. He is young, and lacks social skills. So he needs to be an only pet until we can build up his positive experiences with other dogs. If you can foster, please fill out an application online at”

I began sharing their plea on my personal page.  A 102121/Ramon Rampage/Wild Child/Brindle Guy had that look that said, “I am too young to die.  I have so much to see and do. There is garbage bins to knock over, mud puddles to roll in, car rides to take, cuddles to be had and kisses to be given; where is my best friend?”

Then came the day.  His last hour.  I didn’t want to look to see if he had been edited with the all now too familiar “RIP” on his listing. I felt as though if I didn’t look, it meant it didn’t happen.

I finally gave in and instead I sent Peace for Pits  co-founder, Megan Lindberg an email asking.  She replied she didn’t have the heart to email CACC as of yet, the news was probably not what she wanted to hear.  And just as I thought to myself “at least I am not the only ignoring the inevitable…

Her reply email arrived, “He’s ALIVE” is all it said.  It’s all it had to say.  Christmas morning had come early.

I put out another plea; this time tagging a couple I knew didn’t own a dog and praying maybe they would spot my plea and succumb to his need. I offered to train him, be his dog walker, dog sit him, whatever it would take to enable them to home him as fosters.

At 6pm that evening, they responded with a Facebook pm asking what they needed to do to help.  “Yes!  There was the chance he could be saved.”

They completed the foster paperwork and sent it to Peace for Pits (P4P’s) rescue.  I emailed P4P’s and asked them to please look for the application and to consider putting A 201121 on hold at the CACC until they reviewed the information.

At 1am I received Megan’s email saying, “Brindle guy is on hold. Lisa is now approved as his foster.”

Amen.  I can rest now.

The next day, Megan confirmed with CACC that A 201121 was  a “save”.  I received an email asking when would be a good time to “bust him out”.  Like I said, “just like the big house in Joliet”.  

She gave me the honor of joining her team on this special day. Ashley, one of A 201121 supporters, Megan’s husband and rescue co-founder, Mike and my sister Jill were there for the “busting out” party.

He came running out from behind the doors leading away from the kennels, pulling Ashley and right into Jill as she bent to greet him.  This little dude was saying, “Hey ladies, let’s blow this joint and now!”

Megan, Mike and Ashley loaded us up with his new belongings courtesy of the rescue. Jill placed the little dude in his crate and we set off on his freedom ride.

He rested the trip heading out of the city and to his new life.  Freedom looked good on him.  This is when Jill named him Henry, “He looks like caramel and chocolate, like an O’Henry candy bar, she said, as we tested out names. “Henry is also a gentle name”, she added.

She called out, “Henry”, and his head shot up in the crate.  She called it out a couple of more times, with his ears perking up and his eyes widening.  And so, A 201121 became Henry.

We arrived at our home where he happily bathed, washing away the ick of kennel life.  We picked out some new toys, bed and fleece blankets from our stash and played for a bit to chill before returning to the road for the next leg to his foster home.

Henry’s foster family couldn’t contain themselves and came out to greet him on the driveway.  He immediately went for a walk around the yard for a chance to relieve himself before heading in for the grand tour of the main living space.

His crate, otherwise known as Henry’s Dog Cave set up and playtime commenced. Henry proved a quick learner and after all the family introductions, more new toys, tours of the house and some quick training, little Henry was ready for nap time.

But for the grace of God and the empathy of multiple people who chose to be that one person who said “No. Not today. I will not let you die.” Henry lives.

The power of one person at one moment makes all the difference.

Please don’t wait until “someday” to reach out and help, be that one person today.  The Henry’s of the world don’t have the option of someday.



Find Henry on Petfinder

(foster-sister not included)

In Part II, you’ll read my interview with the cutie himself, Henry and meet the people who raised their voices for him.

New Online BASE Publication: Edge Base Jumping Magazine

Edge Base jumping Magazine


March 1, 2014 marks the publication date of Edge Magazine’s first issue of their online “base jumping magazine, written by base jumpers for base jumpers”.

The first issue is filled with articles by the likes of:

  • Rick Harrison
  • Lonnie Bissonnette
  • Jokke Sommer
  • Tim Howell
  • Alastair Macartney
  • Hubert Schober
  • and yours truly as they reprint my article on Tracy Walker.

With gear reviews by Dan Vicary of Valley BASE Gear and Chris “Douggs” McDougall of BASEDREAMS.

You can check out a preview of the magazine here.

Find them on FACEBOOK here.

On the web here.

The Time Is Now…To Subscribe to Blue Skies That Is

Ding ding ding!!

Last call for subscriptions and renewals! To get on the list for the March issue, get your subscription in before close of business tomorrow. Get the goodness – and nag your friends until they do the same! 

Subscribe HBlue Skies Magazineere






By not being a subscription holder you missed out last month on…

Bounce Proof: by Matt Blank, One man’s thoughts on the risks of BASE jumping and keeping oneself alive.

63 Vertical Women: by Melissa Lowe and Amy Chmelecki, Women’s Vertical World Record account from Skydive Arizona.

Photo Interview: Jennifer Sensenbaugh: by Zach Lewis

Celebration of Erik’s Birthday: by Kandace Rawling, a story of remembrance.

Sky Couples In Honor of Valentines:

  • The Story of Weenie and The Butt, by Hank Caylor (Weenie)
  • Dear Babe, by Josh Epstein
  • Sky Couple, Mark Wilson and Tricia Small, by Eli Godwin
  • Wedding Bliss, by Melanie Grillet

The Year of the Pilot, by The Fuckin’ Pilot

Turning Points, Shifting Skydiving World: by Kurt Gaebel, NSL

and of course all the good stuff packed into The Flyby and Dear SkyGod.


Someone You Should Know… Andy Copland

His handle was “Pikey Base” on the forum, had a smart dry-wit  attitude one would expect from a member of the Cincy BASE crew.  He would cuss you up one side and down the other before you realized and then do it again.   He’d tell you where to shove, stick, put, push, or squeeze it and then some.  In short, he can be a arse.

Andy Copland

Andy Copland

Yet, you can’t help not taking a liking to the guy.  If anything he is honest and that you have to respect.  Even if at times it’s too much information, such as announcing in his Facebook status that he just took his morning dump.

Andy was one of a handful of BASE jumpers to reach out to me 4 years ago when I began writing about BASE.  In fact, I tease Andy not only was he mentoring a newbie then, but me as well.  I would text him questions 24/7 and he’ll tell you, “I would answer them after gripping, “bloody hell woman”.

Regardless of my silly questions, he would meet me online early each morning for a chat while we read the morning news and had coffee.  I can always count on Andy to answer me with a straightforward reply and although I might not always want to hear the answer given, he’ll never shy away from telling it to me.

Anyone who has taken up a conversation, stood at the edge and had the pleasure of making his acquaintance can appreciate having that pleasure and the fear of almost losing him.

Eight months ago, Andy suffered a horrific accident when his parachute failed and his body slammed into the ground at the DZ where he works.  Suffering from chronic pain while he is in need of further surgery to repair the leg and continue the healing and rehabilitation process.  Unable to acquire that medical attention here in the states, his best hope is to return to England where the care is provided for free to its citizenry.

Andy and Sarah

Recently, Sarah Ann, began an online Etsy store Snowflake Stitching selling her handmade scarves to supplement their income and save up to move to England. Sarah Ann is one tough woman, she has to be if she is marrying Andy, come on, have you been reading what I have written?

That being said, let’s put in a business plug for Snowflake Stitching, Sarah Ann’s the creative talent, while Andy makes for an excellent sales rep.   He says the scarves are “soft and warm” having tested them against his freshly shaven face.  The man is secure in his masculinity and unabashedly proud of Sarah Ann; not to mention madly in love.

Snowflake Stitching

Snowflake Stitching

Name of Business: Snowflake Stitching

Website:Snowflake Stitching Etsy Shop

Social Network: Facebook

Industry Type: Handmade clothing accessories

Date Business Opened: December 6, 2013

Description: Snowflake Stitching is an Etsy business that I created to offer custom-made scarves for people all over the world.

Most Rewarding Experience: The most rewarding experience that I have had so far is, I get to make two scarves for two young girls that are in a local foster home, for their Christmas. These girls have not received anything for Christmas in a few years, and I get to make something for them to enjoy.

Biggest Challenge: The biggest challenge that I have had so far is time management. It’s hard to make time for everything in your life, especially your loved ones.

2014 Goal: My goal is to simply supplement my income so I can stop working three separate jobs. To offer something classically stylish and a scarf that is timeless.

Personal sales pitch: Scarves use to be a part of every woman’s wardrobe. With our modern design we aim to make your scarf the centerpiece of your outfit once again.

Please pass along the Snowflake Stitching links to your friends and family.  The scarves make unique thoughtful custom gifts, as well as support friends within the BASE community.


Without further ado,

~15 Questions with Pikey BASE~

Name: Andy Copland

Age: 29

Marital Status: Engaged

Children: Unknown

Location: Atlanta, Georgia

Hometown: Newmarket, England

Education: College Dropout

Number of Jumps: 300+

Year of first Jump: 2007

BASE number: 1338

Year of first Skydive: 2005

Container: Apex DP/Prism

Canopy: FLiK 220 3 of 7 and Mojo

Profession: Skydiver

Nickname: Candy Opland. Don’t Ask.

Something else we shouldn't ask about???

Something else we shouldn’t ask about???

1. What will your epitaph read?

If you are reading this then you are wasting your day.

2. What is your greatest fear in life? Falling, cliché

3. When someone contacts you and asks you to personally teach them to BASE jump, what advice do you offer them first?

Just this week I had another person ask me to teach them and I haven’t agreed as such as I am injured but did agree to teach him to pack and learn some things before his FJC. Generally people asking tend to be either too humble or too cocky. I am more about mental preparation and attitude than jump numbers. There are guys out there with 10,000 skydives who I wouldn’t touch and some guys with 100 jumps I would. The too cocky ones I tell to beat it, the too humble ones I remind them that they have to think for themselves as very few things in this sport are really in stone and there is a lot to learn whether it’s from a bloke with 100 jumps or 1000.

4. What is your jump philosophy and what shaped that philosophy?

I’m not really sure how to answer this question…. I guess my philosophy is ask yourself why you are doing this. It isn’t playing chess, but by the same merit it also isn’t russian roulette. But it is a high risk activity and the consequences can be dire. It’s always that first solo that makes it all make sense. You have no jumpers with you, no ground crew, no one. It gives you a chance to reflect on the risk vs reward, and is it ever rewarding for me. In a nutshell….My philosophy is treat the sport as a lifestyle, not a hobby or it just isn’t worth it for me. I think what shaped that thinking is just being in BASE a few years I seen people get hurt from silly mistakes because they were a yearly Perrine jumper and I’m a snobby cunt.

5. What do you do to de-stress?

Junk food and movies with my girl away from the drop zone and everyone associated with it.

7. Do you foresee “enough ever being enough” for you when it comes to seeking out new adventures?

Never. I have always been a day dreamer and those day dreams are usually full of travel and adventure

8. Do you see a common thread in all jumpers, regardless of place, gender or skill level?

Absolutely, this sport just transforms the meaning of friendship and it doesn’t matter their skill level or gender up there; it’s about being in that moment with good friends. I like to think we all share that, but maybe I’m a corny romanticist.

9. Name a jumper who you most admire and why so?

Oh Christ…. So many to mention. Lonnie Bissonnette of course for his sheer determination to never give up. Brett Kistler may come as a surprise to some, but he balances travel, culture and BASE jumping nicely even if he does look like the Hitler youth. I have a real admiration for those who just go out and get the job done quietly too like Jimmy Kensill who was also my mentor and has well over 1000 BASE jumps by now. Also everyone at Anti Gravity BASE  are committed to helping injured jumpers. They helped me out in my time of need.

Sarah Ann, Lonnie Bissonnette, and Andy

Sarah Ann, Lonnie Bissonnette, and Andy

10. How much do you adhere to the old school BASE ethics?

I cared about them a lot more when I started as I didn’t want to step on any toes but eventually I realised that as long as you are not burning someones city to the ground then it’s fair game. I try to contact the locals every time, if I can’t get hold of them I’ll go find something to jump at night. Now if it’s my backyard then you can’t tell me how to play in it, my yard = my rules and if I want to jump a building at noon that’s my prerogative

11. What is more frightening, planning a wedding or standing on the edge of an exit point?

I’ve never planned a wedding so I would guess the wedding. I’d be too scared to even attempt something as crazy as that. I’ll let Sarah and her friends deal with that mess.

12. What was the biggest challenge in your life this past year?

Recovering from an accident at work. I had a freak accident and my canopy collapsed. At work I fly an 84sq/ft canopy so when it collapsed at 50-100 ft there was no recovering from it. I impacted hard and broke my L4, my right femur, my right heel and my left tib/fib compounded so badly I severed an artery in my leg and crushed the ankle. It was really in the air as to whether they would be able to save my lower leg as they worked for a pulse. I’m 8 months in and still unable to walk for long periods of time let alone get back to work.

13.  Where did you gain your strength to overcome the challenge?

Without a doubt Sarah has been the rock during all this, she has suffered from the accident almost as much as me. Also everyone at Skydive The Farm has been great supporting me.

14.  Where do you foresee yourself in 5 years?

I would like to be back in Europe, preferably on a beach and close to a drop zone. Anywhere as long as I am jumping again, that is my goal in the coming years.

15.   Do you have any regrets about your BASE jumping career?

I wouldn’t say they are regrets, but I do wish I got all the footage of my jumps from some of my mates before they went in! Jokes aside, not really no. I try not to live with regrets as regrets tie you to the past, and I am a firm believer in looking ahead.

Andy Copland

Andy Copland















Brett Kistler aka Hitler Youth Poster Child

Brett Kistler aka Hitler Youth Poster Child

2013 World BASE Race

Two jumpers in gear at the back of the exit ramps,

The starter will ask…

“Jumper A ready?” – confirm,

“Jumper B ready?” – confirm

Jumpers take your starting position at the edge.

The starter begins countdown, “5 – 4″

A single signal is repeated 3 times, bip, bip, bip

Welcome to the World BASE Race

Envision two men standing on wooden platforms at the edge of a mountain cliff. Each man is dressed in what appears to be a flying squirrel suit. At the signal, they jump and race head-on to the finish line, deploying their parachutes and gliding to a safe landing. Mind blowing? Extraordinary? A testament to man’s intestinal fortitude? Innovative genius? A sporting event unlike any other in the world? If you answered yes to all of the above, then let me introduce you to an event that P.T. Barnum would have billed as part of “The Greatest Show on Earth”.

It’s been four years since I first wrote those words regarding the World BASE Race of 2009.  Base jumping was new to me and wingsuit racing was new to the sport itself.  Co-founder and former director of the event Paul Fortun spoke of the race becoming the greatest public party for the athletes and spectators alike.  

If the caliber of athletes, gear and number of spectators gathering pre-race day is any indication, I’d say there’s about to be one hell of a party.

To all the athletes have a safe race.

Enjoy last years teaser video.


Kjersti Eide “Off The Wall with Opera Browser” Commercial

Play it safe and subscribe to Blue Skies magazine today so you don’t miss out on my upcoming article on Kjersti “Kitty Kat” Eide.


On June 27, 2013, a new female 16 way World Record BASE jump was recorded, below are the ladies that participated in the record. 

Amanda Vicharelli,Erin Shutes, Holly Mailander, Lika Borzova, Maria McFly Steinmayr, Kjersti Eide, Susanne Lampe, Roberta Mancino, Daniella Curly Liaris, Tine Richter, Lori Butz, Christine Johansen, Rima El-Masri Baich, Livia Dickie, Jenny McZolla and myself 🙂

New Women World Record June 20, 2013

15 Way Women World Record

15 Way Women World Record Celebration Dance

Women Base jumpers Lika Borzova, Kjersti Eide, Hege Ringard, Tine Richter, Livia Dickie, Rima El-Masri Baich, Roberta Mancino, Erin Shutes, Daniella Curly Liaris, Holly Mailander,  Jenny McZolla and Lori Butz set a new record off  Exit 6 in Kjerag, Norway.

Note:  At the time of publishing, we were still awaiting confirmation on three of the jumpers names.





5 Point Film Festival in Colorado-Split Of A Second

This weekend is SPLIT OF A SECOND up on the 5 Point Film Festival in Colorado, April 25, 2013,  Check the Festival’s trailer, it is beautiful! With Espen Fadnes, Björn Fävremark, John Boisen, Lars Idmyr



Alexander Polli: 2013 Wingsuit Flight (Opening of Season)

There are no constraints on the human mind, no walls around the human spirit, no barriers to our progress except those we ourselves erect.  Ronald Reagan

Alexander Polli is one such man who has removed all constraints from his mind and is free to achieve what others consider the impossible.

Published on Apr 16, 2013
Wingsuit / BASE-jump athlete Alexander Polli does the never before done—a tactical flight through a narrow cave on a rugged mountainside. The flight starts with a jump from a hovering helicopter, Alexander reaches speeds of 250 km/h (155 mph) while following a precise trajectory leading to the cave opening, he then fully commits and flies directly through the narrow opening of the “Batman Cave!”
Shot in full HD, this extraordinary flight exceeds the level of commitment most fliers would ever consider—there can be no attempting, the only option is success!
The narrow cave, no wider than Alexander is tall, is located in Roca Foradada Mountains in Montserrat, Spain—a location that has inspired this professional Italian Norwegian athlete’s flying dream his whole life. Alexander hopes his success will inspire others not only to ‘climb over their mountains,’ but to also fly right through them!

Subscribe to EpicTV:

Like Alexander Polli on Facebook:…

Like Morals Arrivederci on Facebook:…

Follow Alexander Polli on Twitter:


Edit: Morals Arrivederci…

Post-production: Sugodesign

Music and sound design:
Mnemonic Industries

May 7th, 2013 First Jump Course with Chris ‘douggs’ McDougall

Chris ‘douggs’ Mcdougall will be conducting a First Jump Course at the Perrine Memorial Bridge, aka The Potato Bridge, in Idaho, May 7th-May 17th, 2013.

If you have completed 200 skydives, have your own rig, and read/studied The Great Book of BASE; You can contact Chris via to discuss your qualifications and registration process and fees.

Please share this information with those you feel would benefit from this opportunity. Thank you.

For once you have tasted flight you will walk the earth with your eyes turned skywards, for there you have been and there you will long to return.
Leonardo da Vinci

Google News BASE Alerts April 4, 2013

Daredevil Pulls Off ‘Jason Bourne of BASE Jumping‘ Inside a Hotel
U.S. News & World Report
The jump may be one of the most technically challenging BASE jumps ever attempted. Miles Daisher, who has more than 2,700 jumps to his name, stood on the 19th story balcony of the Gaylord National Hotel, jumped and fell for six stories before deploying
See all stories on this topic »

You can read more about Miles in an article Cynthia did with him for Blue Skies Magazine here.

And check out today’s post by Clair Marie “Learning How to BASE Jump”. or at least, do that first jump. 🙂

Douggs Adds to Legacy with BASE jump in Kuwait

In case you missed it…there are lots of photos on Instagram of the jump as it took place.

414m fall  into the history books and hearts of the Kuwaiti people…


~from Chris’s Facebook Status Feed

Holy Shit…..we did it 🙂 Kuwait’s first 2 base jumps ever and achieved in perfect Aussie style 🙂 I am so proud to have a whole country support me in our joint dreams! I really hope i can be appreciated in my home country of Australia one day but in the mean time…… I am happy to make the rest of the world happy while my country is busy being ultra gay!…..Oz is missing out. Lucky you like cricket Aussies!!!!

I am so happy and Proud of base jumping right now and the fact that East VS West means absolutely nothing to the real human being!…… fuck the Governments and may happiness and love rule the universe and adventure sports 🙂


Congratulations Chris!

Al Hamra Tower Poster


DaNcEcLaSs Episode 3: Happy BASE Dancing Edition (2012)

Kudos to the Little Fluffer for inspiring those around her to dance at the exit, dance at the landing zone, dance in the street, in the parking lot, at the Troll Wall sign, on mountains across Europe, on top of RapeVan, morning, noon and night. She danced her way through 2012 and convinced all around her to do the same.

To all those BASE dancers, remember dance, gear check, dance, gear check, dance, gear check, jump.

24 Interviews: Nope Can’t Take It Back, It’s In Cyberspace and Print

Today my 24th interview began landing in readers post boxes around the globe, as my 10th BASE article appears in the February 2013 issue of Blue Skies Magazine.

My latest is ESPEN FADNES SMOOTH OPERATOR.  If the opportunity to meet Mr. Fadnes, “Fast-Dog” of Midget BASE fame arises, take it.


Espen “Fast-Dog” Fadnes

In fact if you are new to BASE jumping I guarantee that you will learn something about the sport, about the interviewees and yourself by reading from my body of work about BASE.  And again, if you have the opportunity to meet or speak to these people, take it.

  • Hank Caylor
  • Rigger Lee
  • Brendan Nicholson
  • Calvin 19 and his sisters Annie and Emily
  • Jeb Corliss
  • Clair Marie (The BASE Girl)
  • Rick Harrison
  • Tracey Space Walker
  • Michael Pelkey
  • Jevto Dedijer (BASE 66)
  • Lonnie Bissonette
  • Tim Mangan
  • Matt Frolich
  • Anniken Binz
  • Lika Borzova
  • Livia Dickie
  • Karen Lewis Dalton
  • Ana Isabel Dao
  • Tony Uragalla  (Tony Suits)
  • Miles and Nikki Daisher
  • Espen Fadness

These people embodied the essence of my blog tagline,”Everyone has a story to tell…some people use more exclamation marks than others.”



Blue Skies Magazine: February 2013 Issue

Greeting’s from the desk of the editor of Blue Skies Magazine:

Happy Valentine’s Day.  We have a little treat for you, and it’s called the February issue of Blue Skies Mag, which is mailing out now.

If you don’t have your magazine by March 1, please email In the meantime, hang tight and keep checking your mailbox for this tasty morsel of delight.

If you’re not a subscriber, you can still get this issue with a new subscription or renewal. Just let us know what month you want to start with when you CLICK HERE TO SUBSCRIBE. Subtle, I know. That’s what this day is all about.

So here is what is inside issue #40:

Cover Photo The great and powerful Jeffro takes a selfie. i40_February2013
“Making Old Skool Cool. Red Bull Air Force jumper Jeff Provenzano hadn’t seen Stefan Klaus or a sky surf board in years, but both showed up one day in Eloy, Arizona. A mirror glued to the bottom of the board and ‘Bam there it is. Pretty weird seeing a full-body reflection of yourself in freefall. I could not help but laugh.'”

“No Shit There I Was”
Katena (the one who's not a boy) on a day where she didn't land in the Atlantic Ocean.
Katena (the one who’s not a boy) on a day where she didn’t land in the Atlantic Ocean. 

Did you hear about the wingsuit chick who landed in the ocean at Sebastian Invasion? Katena Houfek was that chick and this is her story.

The FlyBy Monthly tit4tat, reader news, Blue Skies Mailbox, Point Break quiz, new NZ Aerosports CF canopy, and a fantastic new way to memorize randoms.

“Go Fast Slingshot” by Jimmy Pouchert, Apex BASE
You didn't think there was only one energy drink, did you?
You didn’t think there was only one energy drink, did you?

Jimmy Pouchert was a human spitball for the Crown Prince.

♥ “Kickin’ It Old Skool” by Randy Swallows

Jumpers Over Seventy (JOS)
Jumpers Over Seventy (JOS)

Randy Swallows photographed the record and has a few thoughts on these oldest of the old-school school. Bottom line: They’re awesome.


“Espen Fadnes: Smooth Operator” by Cynthia Guzman

Espen Fadnes, ProBASE World Cup 2012 Champion
Espen Fadnes, ProBASE World Cup 2012 Champion

The amazing Miss Cynthia interviews the current ProBASE World Cup champ, who thinks, “I was at my best as a BASE jumper in 2006-2007. I hope to be that good one day again. To fly with that confidence. Maybe next year. I’ll try to do 300-400 wingsuit skydives before next season and then maybe…”


“Top 10 Tunnel Flyers” by Jacob Diliberto

Havaard Flaat in the Bedford tunnel doing...something.
Havaard Flaat in the Bedford tunnel doing…something.

Jake assesses the tunnel talent around the world and makes his male and female rankings.


Sebastian Invasion Photo Essay by Norman Kent
A picture here of the pictures featured would not help us in our goal to sell print magazines.


“Paying the Piper: David Michael Winland, Tattoo Artist”

Some of David's work on the arm of Jason Peters.
Some of David’s work on the arm of Jason Peters.

David Winland and his shop, Judas Custom Tattoo & Social Club, was voted “Best DZ Tattoo Artist” in our December 2012 issue, so let’s get to know him, shall we? Oh and PS – the aerial photo in this feature was taken by Vince Arnone, whom we didn’t get photo credit in the mag for. Sorry Vince!

“Tales of the Badass: SoCal Converge” by Sydney Williams
Sydney interviews not one, but three badasses this month. Andy, Travis, and Matt are not too terrible at freeflying.


“Turning Points: 4-Way Personnel Drama” by Kurt Gaebel, NSL
Kurt analyzes the new Arizona Airpseed and SDC Rhythm XP lineups. And as the title suggests, it involves a little drama.

“TSA Two-Step” by the Fuckin’ Pilot
Dean “Princess” Ricci is not in the Transportation Safety Administration’s fan club. Neither is Barry Williams, but they each have very different ways of showing it.

“I’m Serious!” by Melanie Curtis

Coach Mel and Team Luau Confusion, having no fun at all.
Coach Mel and Team Luau Confusion, having no fun at all.

Who says 4-way is serious?

Argon Air, Helipad Inspectors by Moe Viletto
A completely true story about a completely fake company, owned by BASE jumpers Bill Ding and Cliff Leaper.

SkyGod is apparently a Communist now.

That’s all! We hope you like this issue. Please send us feedback! Did you like something? Hate something? Have an opinion one way or the other on anything at all? Email me at or submit anonymously through our Letter to the Editor form online.

Smoke (gone, but not forgotten)

His name was Smoke or A141875 in the Chicago Animal Care & Control facility.

His owner surrendered him on Christmas Day.

He had 6 days, 144 hours, 8640 minutes and 518400 seconds for a volunteer to meet him, get to know him (evaluate), contact the CACC approved homeward bound rescues. Then a rescue must find a foster home and put in the paperwork to pull him. Wait for it to be accepted and then save the dog.

He was surrendered with a female who recently had puppies. She was most likely surrendered because they didn’t need anymore litter’s from her and he probably never got sold during those 8 months.

Smoke didn’t make it. His 8 months of life is his entire history. He could have been someone’s everything, a best friend, a playmate, a family member.

Yes, life is not fair. You take what you’re dealt.

But you know what really tears at my heart. Smoke didn’t have a say in his life.

Imagine if we didn’t spend a small fortune of taxpayer money on facility costs and ridiculously high salaries for it’s staff in to bring dogs in the front door and sending them out the back door in garbage bags. The money that could be saved and focused elsewhere for those in need of services. Animal sanctuary’s could adopt out dogs, provide medical care and give senior dogs a place to quietly live out their lives. Why is it only private citizens create these sanctuaries and not our government?

Before anyone comments, “crazy rescue people care more about dogs/cats/companion animals more than people, untrue, they value ALL life”. Rescue volunteers are merely trying to end a bit of the evil and sadness that plagues our society.

I have friends who have told me they can’t look at my feed because of all the sad dogs I post. If they bothered to follow along in most cases the village of volunteers in Chicago/Chicagoland usually get the job done. When a person sees the post shared by a friend and steps up to save a life; that’s a win. Good networking will always trump comments praying for divine intervention. God can’t save the dog from the shelter, but he can give you the strength to do so.

Instead of turning away become part of the solution. Volunteer, Foster, Donate, Sponsor, Advocate, Educate, Network, Transport, all these components make up saving a dog’s life. If you can’t find it in yourself to assist in the fight, perhaps you could send a thank you to a rescue organization or volunteer telling them thanks. Compassion fatigue is real, support the rescuer as well as the rescue.

If I may also say, if you see a animal being abused physically, through starvation, being chained outside 24/7, make it your business, call the police, call animal control or reach out to a rescue in your area who will know exactly what to do to get the animal to safety.

That’s my two cents for what it’s worth. I feel better.