I continued on the stream of thought, that there is an “us vs. them” mentality regarding B.A.S.E jumper’s and Law Enforcement with a follow up question that lead to Rick debating with me. “I notice a great deal of angry talk and name calling of park rangers and law enforcement in regards to being nabbed.
Coming from a family of law enforcement professionals, I find it a bit unsettling, in respects to these are people doing their jobs. They don’t make the laws, they enforce them. I would expect that if I was breaking a law and the police are alerted, they would do their job. It’s a risk one takes when jumping from illegal sites. So why bitch about it? You did the crime, now do the time. To hate on the officials seems to be harsh, considering when you, your family or friends are in need, they are first responders placing their lives on the line. B.A.S.E jumpers talk of death and how they stare it right in the face when jumping. While law enforcement officials stare at it each and every moment with an obligation to serve and protect. What is your take on all of this?”
“I guess I’m going to have to pick at you a bit here for the tone of your rhetoric in your question regarding this most sensitive of topics. As a lawyer for over 30 years, I can assure you that law enforcement personnel on the ground have more actual discretion than anyone in the day to day management of the criminal justice system. The old, “I don’t make the laws” thing isn’t really the way it works on the ground, but is sometimes used as a convenient excuse. Most actual decisions as to what and how hard to enforce laws and regulations is done at the ground level by police or rangers, even though technically you are correct.
It’s true, prosecutors have the “legal discretion” called “prosecutorial discretion”, not to prosecute, but no one uses more actual discretionary authority every day than the cop on the street that decides what to enforce and when not to be harsh and strictly enforce the law.
As a lawyer who has always sort of specialized in Constitutional law I believe a very important part of any American’s duty is to challenge unjust laws. If we didn’t engage in civil disobedience, we would still have the Jim Crow laws against blacks; we’d have stayed in Vietnam even longer. Civil Disobedience in my opinion is a very necessary part of maintaining a free society and keeping our form of government honest and an authoritarian government at bay.
Regarding the daily danger of first responders, it is much truer with Police than it is National Park Service Rangers. I defy anyone to show me where a ranger was in danger of his life because of a B.A.S.E jumper with the exception of some rescues. Rescues can be dangerous and rescuers often are at some risk. Norway made one mountain illegal to jump due to the danger of rescue operations on Troll wall because of dirty rock, deep crevices etc.
National Park Service even tried to treat jumpers differently on this issue as well by trying to make jumpers pay rescue costs. There was never any talk of making climbers pay for their own rescue costs, even though the most unskilled ill equipped folks were allowed to climb with virtually no restrictions causing many more rescue costs than jumping ever has. Also, as I mentioned in the paragraph above, the way some rangers have treated B.A.S.E jumpers, with vigorous interrogations and unnecessary duress as if they were robbers or assailants, is unwarranted behavior on the part of any law enforcement personnel given the real facts that all a BASE jumper really wants to do is jump off a cliff, land and commit no crimes.
In reality he is only endangering him or herself, not the public or the public lands. History of legal B.A.S.E has shown that if the activity is allowed at a really nice place, the jumpers who really appreciate having a good site will protect it from abuse by other jumpers. This is why the Perrine Bridge in Twin Falls. Idaho and New River in West Virginia have been so successful and beneficial to the communities. Large cliffs are legal all over Europe and the activities are very well self regulated and generate income for local businesses.
I’m convinced that even though the unruly actions by a few jumpers in Yosemite in the early days of B.A.S.E may have helped start the bad blood, it was an overzealous model of law enforcement and authority that caused the sore to turn into a cancer. In our country, we spend a lot of time, money and effort protecting people from their selves and we use the criminal law as the vehicle for enforcement. I admit, I am more Darwinian than most. I believe to a great degree in survival of the fittest. If one undertakes an activity they cannot handle, be it B.A.S.E jumping, skydiving, drugs, etc. then their genes will probably and properly be lost to the gene pool.
I do not advocate pure anarchy, but I don’t like paying $50,000 per year to house some drug user or other “criminal” in prison who is mainly hurting themselves and not others. Democracy and civil rights should be more about protecting people from the actions of others, not themselves as far as the criminal law is concerned. It goes back to Malum in Se versus Malum Prohibita. Your right to swing your fist should end at my nose but the State should not brand you a criminal for hitting your own nose.
This is where I have a problem with laws strictly preventing jumping in National Parks and the inordinately bad treatment that B.A.S.E jumpers often receive at the hands of authority figures.
I will share one funny story to show how it can get out of hand. When myself and our USPA Conference Director got caught making a 172′ freefall off a bridge in Texas back in about 1983, the cop had us handcuffed in the back seat. He had to drive to one city to do paperwork to be able to take us to another county for a night in jail. We had jumped on the county line so they had to clear paperwork in both counties. He began driving at about 105 mph swerving around cars on the shoulder as we were coming into town as if to show us he was just as manly as we were. I almost told him what my buddy Phil Smith did tell a Houston cop the year before who was doing the same macho thing with Phil handcuffed in the back. Smitty looked at the cop in the rear view mirror and told him, “You can’t scare me; I jump off of buildings for fun.”
Of course this will get you worse treatment which is why I refrained from saying it when they were doing it to us, but it exemplifies that even law enforcement officials can act inappropriately when the “us and them” mentality prevails then they become the ones not acting professionally.”
I explained to Rick where my question grew its roots, besides the fact that I come from a law enforcement, military, firefighter extended family where referring to a police officer as a “pig” would warrant a bar of soap in the mouth; I had poised a similar question to Hank Caylor. Being a rock climber, B.A.S.E jumper and infamous for having a mug shot that ranks right up there with Billy the Kid, Hank had his share of interpersonal time with law enforcement.
The following was Hank’s reply to the question: “Act like you had no idea and try to get out of it with polite manners. There is no set response, it’s a case by case situation, I think.” I redirected him to the attitude that seems prevalent in B.A.S.E jumping of “sticking it to the man.” “B.A.S.E jumpers are as diverse a group as any other extreme activity. Some people want to “stick it to the man” and some are just polite to the man when caught. I just happen to be the latter.”
“For me and my siblings, as kids we rode our motorcycles on the street, it’s illegal as we didn’t have licenses. It was also trespassing if the police nabbed us coming off the farmer’s property. We still did both. However, we knew that if the police nabbed us, then it was our choice to trespass and drive on the street, so you accepted it. You paid the ticket, listened to the lecture, were escorted home to your parents, ect. We didn’t hold a grudge against the police for doing their job. In most cases they lectured us a couple times before talking to our parents and then eventually if you got nabbed again, a ticket was issued. We had our fun and if we could ride all day and get home without being nabbed by the police it was all good. Our parents insisted that if the police did turn on their lights or call to us that we not run and that we be respectful towards them. Our parents would take the motorcycles away if we disrespected a police officer over taking them away because we shouldn’t be riding on the street or on someone’s property. We soon learned that walking your bike home into the subdivision is technically not riding it illegally on the street. One of the officers clued us in on that trick.
Of course you will find police officers that are jerks. They are not immune to their quota of jerks no more than any other profession. I guess I don’t agree with the angry, name calling that takes place on the boards. I am more in tune with Hank in being polite and not generalizing that all police officers are jerks or that all park rangers are assholes. Just as I don’t believe all base jumpers are jerks that would do damage to property, liter, or cause more grief than necessary when dealing with the police.”
Rick countered, “I agree that it’s crazy to treat the law enforcement folks with anything but courtesy. First it’s common sense. If you make them mad, it’s harder for the prosecutor to cut you some slack. Second, I always believe in treating them fairly which gives them a chance to do likewise. I’ve never been abused by cops verbally or physically on a bust. I always tell B.A.S.E jumpers to treat the cops with respect, but the treatment has not always been professional for some reason when it comes to B.A.S.E. I think some authority figures get intimidated a little by B.A.S.E jumpers and to some, it seems to threaten their manhood so they use their authority position to “show you who’s boss”, like the cop driving us over 100 mph. Anyway, I always treat cops and rangers with courtesy and it’s usually returned.
In fact, talking about enlightened law enforcement people, last night Randy reminded me of when in 1982, Phil Smith, Randy and I went to jump a 2000′ tower in Oklahoma because there was a friendly judge that had fined 2 jumpers $1.00 each when they were caught on this tower. He even had his picture in the paper with the two and I believe they were girl jumpers which were rare for B.A.S.E back then. This was a judge who realized that BASE jumping really just wasn’t a crime so he hit them a dollar for the trespass. In 1985, Phil Mayfield joined the three of us for two jumps off the same tower for Sports Illustrated Magazine. They did a nice 9 page article in an August issue called “Who Needs an Airplane”. Fun time, but no elevator so we climbed 2000′ two days in a row wearing skydiving rigs at about 30 lbs each. Too bad, that tower finally fell down after an ice storm.
In years past, it was common to have laws called “simple trespass” versus “criminal trespass”. The HUGE difference is simple trespass was when you were on another’s property with no intent to commit a crime. The second was trespass with intention to commit a crime like robbery or vandalism. Nowadays, most BASE jumpers are charged with Criminal Trespass even though there was no intent to commit a crime. The jumping itself is usually not a crime but the fines or jail time for criminal trespass can be severe. In many states, laws against trespassing in construction sites have been made felonies since they presume you are there to steal. At worst, BASE jumping off a private building or antenna should be “simple trespass” with a small fine so long as there is no showing of intent to do damage.”
I replied, “I wonder if female police officers cut BASE jumpers more of break than male ones. I know I remember reading a jumper’s story in the forum articles about a female officer telling him to grab his canopy and go. I can see where male to male confrontations based on testosterone. The jumper is hyped off making the jump and the police officer is hyped from taking the call and making the bust. Perhaps if B.A.S.E jumping becomes publicized in a positive manner, more officers will tell jumpers “grab your gear and go”. With understanding there comes compassion and a balance to that ground level enforcement of the laws.”
Rick concluded the debate in saying, “Very true about the understanding. Not sure about females, but you likely have a pretty good point about the testosterone. I have had security guard hold traffic for me to back up a one way street to get a friend to a hospital off a building in Houston. He even said for us to put the parachutes in the trunk in case the cops show up and we can just tell them nothing. There are really a lot of stories about cops and guards who basically said to get your gear and go. People are all different. Some feel threatened by a B.A.S.E jumper, but some can’t help but think it’s pretty cool and they usually use what I feel is the right discretion once they realize the jumper intended no harm or damage.”
As we were on a roll dealing with legal issues, I poised the next question, “I have had some jumpers discuss drinking and drugs prior to jumping. I know that you said that you were no Quaker. I am questioning how prevalent alcohol and drugs are in B.A.S.E jumping? I would think that the high you receive from the dopamine being released into your brain would suffice. If someone needs to drink or intake drugs prior to jumping to gather the nerve, then perhaps they aren’t jumping for the right reason as you spoke of early. If jumpers were to die and a toxicology report discovered drugs in their blood, I imagine the backlash towards B.A.S.E jumping would be damaging in making any progress with opening legal sites. You are correct in your observations that drugs and alcohol should be kept separate from jumping. I must admit, in the early days when the sport and we were all younger, there was considerable partying surrounding B.A.S.E, but in reality, for the most part, the partying happened after the jumps not before. I guess it’s often part of the personality of real adrenaline junkies and adventurers.
Sobriety on jumps is probably more true today than ever since so many of the new B.A.S.E jumpers are not really experienced skydivers that came from the wild 60’s and 70’s where drugs were more a part of the culture. Many today have learned B.A.S.E from good first jump courses where they were taught to take it very seriously. It’s a different time and culture now.
The start of most high risk adrenaline sports often had some pretty rough party types who started it. NASCAR was born in the dirt tracks, which was born in the early days of moonshiners and souped up cars. Early days of Rock climbing in the 60’s often were mixed with acid or other mind stimulating drugs. Hell, just driving while drinking, so long as you weren’t drunk, was tolerated in this country until the open container laws began generally in the 80’s. Fact is, once the numbers of people doing anything dangerous increases, by necessity more mores and regulations come into play to control the activity. Place more cars on the road, tougher laws against drinking.
Now that new and less experienced people are doing things like skydiving and B.A.S.E, there is a greater need to control the use of drugs and alcohol. Most B.A.S.E jumpers will stop a friend if they are too loaded to be jumping safely. I personally have talked quite a few from jumping when they were too screwed up, especially the more inexperience jumpers who had really not developed the instinctive reactions needed to handle a problem quickly since you have no time to think through it if you have a problem on a B.A.S.E jump. My brother actually dumped a guys reserve on the exit point at Black Canyon back in the 80’s when we wore reserves and the jumper was too drunk to jump.
One thing I’ll say which is likely not very understandable by the average person who doesn’t really comprehend doing things like flying, jumping, climbing, or other “dangerous” sports. Once one is very experienced in these sports, people can actually do this stuff pretty safely even if they have had a couple drinks. I know that sounds irresponsible, but I’ve flown quite a few times with really good jump pilots who could do it with one eye closed and a snout full. Usually I feel more comfortable with that pilot who is confident enough in his or her abilities to be able to do it than one who goes around the plane 2 or 3 times, acting scared to death with their check list in their hand.
I realize the average person gets nervous when we hear of pilots having a drink before flying, or jumpers doing the same. Once you develop the skills and survival instincts to do a danger sport or activity well, even if you have a few beers or whatever, the adrenaline you get during the activity especially during an emergency has a funny way of keeping you alert and safe.
The adrenaline seems to overcome a lot during the actual jump. It is usually more dangerous in the pre jump planning phase when a foggy mind can make bad decisions from the start, like where to exit or what kind of delay to do or a stupid packing error. Once the adrenaline starts pumping, it straightens most folks out pretty well during the jump. It’s not an excuse and it’s certainly not something most folks should do, but think about it, B.A.S.E jumpers and risk takers are not normal people. I won’t try to opine why that is, but it is a fact whether it’s a deficient enzyme or gland or what. Some kinds of people simply handle or even thrive best on high risk situations better than the average person, so I have to remind non jumpers to be a little less judgmental when trying to compare us to an average person who cannot wrap their mind around the fact that jumping off a cliff can be fun, scary but fun.
During these exchanges I was beginning to see what the others whom I spoke with have seen in Rick. He allowed me, a non-jumper, a non-officer of the court, to engage him in a debate over B.A.S.E legalities while treating my opinions and observations with value and merit. Simply stated,” Rick plays fair”.
We delved right into the deep end of the pool with Rick on the topic of “videos, Red Bull Air Force, B.A.S.E ethics, the meaning of the term ‘whuffos’, non-jumper participation, First Jump Courses and Carl and Jean Boenish vision for B.A.S.E”. I presented Rick with topics and asked him to give me his .02 on each one respectively.
First Jump Courses:
“I consider one of the best aspects of modern B.A.S.E. We of course had no courses when I began. Finally a newsletter came out from Carl Boenish and several others followed, but information about gear, sites, techniques were word of mouth. You had to know someone who knew a B.A.S.E jumper and we didn’t brag too much about it at drop zones since it was frowned on back then. I Imagine the First Jump Courses have saved a lot of lives since so many people seem to want to get into B.A.S.E without skydiving much first. It works, but is clearly more risky learning survival and technical skills on a B.A.S.E jump, even the easy ones.
In our day, the only reason many of us survived the transition from skydiving is that most of the first 50 to 100 B.A.S.E jumpers already had over 1000 skydives by 1982, which was a lot of experience back then. The group of first B.A.S.E came mainly from experienced jumpers in relative work, which was a pretty hard partying group back in the 70’s. Once the good relative work dropzones began to focus only on money, all either sponsored competition ten man teams or students, the fun began to go out of commercial dropzones. They also got more FAA scrutiny so things like having a beer became really taboo.
There were certain personalities that were looking to find the rush that got us into skydiving in the first place, a love for the sky and a fear of falling, not just turning 18 points on skydive. Well, B.A.S.E was the perfect solution. Every early B.A.S.E jumper I know well, used to, as a skydiver, wonder what it would be like to jump off a cliff or a building. As soon as BASE started, the was a rush of experienced relative workers who jumped on the bandwagon so the first 50 or so B.A.S.E numbers happened in the first year and a half after B.A.S.E number 1 was issued in Jan. 1981.”
Red Bull Air Force and You Tube Videos:
“I am glad you asked since I actually feel it ties into the original goal of Carl when B.A.S.E started. I know some folks criticize all the publicity and want to return to the days of cloak and dagger. Too late, we’re clearly out of the closet. From what I’ve seen, all of the B.A.S.E publicity with the Red Bull guys has been excellent.
Carl Boenish was a little naive when he decided to start the U.S. B.A.S.E Association. I guess back in the first couple years, most of us were very experienced skydivers and we figured the public would sort of like watching B.A.S.E jumps. We felt that good publicity demo jumps would lead to B.A.S.E jumps being part of the entertainment at festivals, etc. In fact, Carl and Jean did a legal building jump at the Peanut Festival in Memphis back in about 1983.
What I mean is that for B.A.S.E to be accepted and more legal sites opened up, we need to be more of a household word. It took skydiving about 30 years to get there and B.A.S.E is still far behind in image. The Red Bull demos I feel have great public appeal and are well done. Even the Rangers in Colorado that busted Shane McConkey once respected him since they knew of his skill in backcountry survival and skiing. I personally feel Carl Boenish would be proud that at least part of the sport is being accepted by authorities as a legitimate spectator event. Carl always said the whole world is jumpable. With today’s gear, turns out he’s correct and we are seeing more legal sites every year.
I really do not believe that You Tube has much influence on whuffos thinking they can go out and do this. Reason for that is you really just can’t go out and find a parachute, pack it, and make a B.A.S.E jump very easily without coming into contact with a real jumper who will normally steer you in a better direction. Don’t tell Wal-Mart or they will be selling parachutes to anyone off the street. Even getting hold of a skydiving rig and a pilot who will fly you if you are a whuffo is pretty difficult.
For example, I had an ex airborne jumpmaster call me once when I was President of our skydiving club in Iowa in 1974 or so. He wanted to rent a chute to jump into an Iowa football game on Saturday. I asked him if he had ever free fallen or jumped a steerable canopy and he said no. I told him if he could come down and pass our written exam and perform a controlled freefall using a steerable canopy and hit a target, I’d rent him a chute. Of course he didn’t show up. I do believe that the more visible well executed B.A.S.E jumps become; our chances of getting more legal jumps improve.
What I meant about You Tube, is that sometimes we see real stupid things being done, loud mouth cussing, poorly executed exits or landings, or what appears to be pretty uncontrolled behavior. This will give the average viewer a bad impression of the sport itself and allow them to generalize that we’re all a bunch of yahoos with no respect for neighbors or the landscape, or our own lives for that matter. In reality, most BASE jumpers, even if we act a bit rambunctious before or after the jump, really take the actual preparation and jumping seriously.
This is where I differentiate from some, not all of the You Tube stuff and the Red Bull guys. Carl and Jean always did things quite professionally and courteously. Even if we would kid around in private, when it came to being in front of cameras, we behaved, acted professionally, let the viewers know about the equipment, preparation, etc. I feel the Red Bull guys and the Go Fast games, even though some of the folks may be less experienced than they should be; the activity and what is portrayed on camera is usually well behaved with good publicity.
Again, the more of this the public sees, the more they, building owners, police, and government regulators will begin to accept the fact that if done right, it can be done with an acceptable level of risk. The Red Bull publicity is usually well done and positive and at least gives other responsible jumpers a chance to negotiate legal sites for festivals etc.
Can you pinpoint when or why promoting B.A.S.E jumping in the public eye became so taboo?
“Not sure it is really taboo if it’s done right and promoted right. Sure there are those who seem to prefer the cloak and dagger approach. B.A.S.E is pretty unique and I guess that makes some folks feel even more special when they do it in the middle of the night sneaking into a building. Even Phil Smith and I had a routine to celebrate the getaway. As soon as we landed, we’d shake hands once since we lived. In then making it to the car on the public road, we shook hands again to celebrate the fact that we escaped. Even though I also get a little extra rush out of getting away and not getting caught, I’d rather have all legal B.A.S.E jumps.
Most of the furor over public display is the kind that brings bad publicity. Some of the You Tube videos are good, but some show the jumpers to be idiots or too rowdy. If you’re going to show the world B.A.S.E jump videos, it helps the sport if it’s well done and not a lot of antics are on the film.
I guess what I’m saying is that we may as well show the public the best side of ourselves and our sport if we video. We all know that some jumps involve those clandestine late night jumps, usually on an antenna, that happen after half a night of partying and you find yourself packing at midnight to go do a tower half crocked. This happens far less than the lore may indicate, but it will always be a part of the makeup of some thrill seekers regardless of what sport they do.“
**Addendum: By the way, not a good idea to post illegal jumps on You Tube under your own name. At least wait a few years until the statute of limitations has run out. This is said sort of in jest to the young man who may be in the soup. Best of luck to you.***
B.A.S.E. Ethics and Carl’s Vision of B.A.S.E:
Well, the sport has grown so large in numbers of people who do it at least occasionally it is very hard to generalize. Joy and I read all of the letters from people when they qualify for BASE. These folks are nearly all very excited and seem to possess a lot of the same spirit and ethics we had when BASE first started.
Even back then, there were people who would burn sites, write junk like, “eat f–k skydive” on bridges, etc. Today, they still exist and unfortunately some of them have access to You Tube. I have no problem with well executed jumps showing up on the computer, but if you screw up, or throw some sacred object up for ridicule, and then you are just pissing people off and making it tougher for more responsible B.A.S.E jumpers. Don’t get me wrong, my brother and me and our old jump friends were never Quakers but we knew how to party and still not screw up the site or get caught, most of the time.
Can you outline what you understood what Carl’s dream for B.A.S.E to be? In the beginning did you have any inclination that it would grow to the extent it has?
I really can’t speak for Carl, but he was such a positive person that made sure we never left liter or damage in the wake of our jumps. Carl was a unique person to be the world’s leading skydiving photographer and to have grown up in a world of skydiving in the 60’s and 70’s and yet he did not drink or do drugs. Hard to believe he could be so non judgmental, since most of the skydivers of that era partied pretty hard.
Carl got such a rush out of a good jump that I believe he felt like every skydiver would love it once they tried it. Back then, we really did not envision B.A.S.E getting so popular that it would attract non jumpers as participants. To us old farts, the thought of being a full-fledged B.A.S.E jumper without first learning to skydive was unheard of since reaction time on canopy control and opening was so crucial. We would static line non jumpers off of bridges over water since they really didn’t have to know anything, but that was about it.
Carl, like quite a few of us at the start figured that once people watched B.AS.E jumps, they couldn’t be against it and I think he believed it would be a popular form of demonstration jumps for events and festivals. It wasn’t until after the National Park Service started getting pretty hard on jumpers in Yosemite that Carl’s optimism probably faded a little. I guess it’s still hard enough for some to comprehend jumping out of airplanes, let alone off cliffs and objects. The more good publicity we get the more the idea of B.A.S.E will become a little more familiar and acceptable. I believe Carl would be happy that we are to some degree, out of the shadows and that more legal sites are being opened.”
B.A.S.E. Forums, Whuffos and Non-Jumper Participation:
Sharing information has always been a big part of BASE, but it was usually on a need to know basis. Learning was done in small groups where you ground crewed some and then learned enough to do the jump. The B.A.S.E forums are really not the place to ask for technical advice. There is a technical section and the Blinc website has more technical sharing. Problem with the general forum is that it’s mostly a B.A.S.E chat room and we do know that there is at least one National Park Service Ranger that used to monitor the site as a troll.
B.A.S.E jumping is still a pretty tight community that seems hard to break into for an outsider. When I started, it was real tight since there were only a handful worldwide and we pretty much knew who everyone was. We always shared information on gear and techniques to help others learn. Information on sites can get pretty sketchy however for fear of someone burning a good site like an elevator tower or a good building. Also, I’ve seen some questions posed by newbie’s on the B.A.S.E forum that were so dumb that the person was either a non jumper pretending to be a jumper, like a suspected troll, which we all dislike, or such a novice that they had no business B.A.S.E jumping anything except a bridge over water. When jumpers see these kinds of questions, the answers can be quite sharp and condescending.
By the way, if you don’t know, WHUFFO is a term that came from early skydiving in the late 50’s or early 60’s where in rural areas, spectators would go to a small airport to watch skydiving and ask the jumpers, “Whuffo you jump out of them airplanes?” Well, the term of Whuffos stuck to non jumpers, but in recent decades, it sort of applies to other newcomers to an aspect of the sport, like a new skydiver wanting to learn B.A.S.E, may be called a whuffo skydiver.
Non jumper ground crews have always been essential to B.A.S.E. Amazing how much abuse some of these folks would tolerate until we finally burnt them out on being B.A.S.E ground crews, especially towers at night, how boring.
As far as non jumpers on forums, as spectators, etc., guess what, if any jumper, skydiver or B.A.S.E jumper tells you he or she hates them, don’t believe it. All jumpers have ego, not all out of control, but we are all proud of what we do since most people even today cannot bring themselves to jump.
Jumpers have always and will always need the attention of WHUFFOS. It is what gives us our special identity. We need to remind some of our friends that without non jumpers taking an interest and expressing the WOW factor, we become Nothing Special. It is the very existence of non jumpers that make us special in our own eyes and those of others. Any jumper bitching about WHUFFO’s is being disingenuous.
There is a group dedicated to getting more legal access from the National Park Service. They are called the Alliance of Backcountry Parachutists. Robin Heid a former technical editor for Skydiving Magazine, sort of started it several years ago. I have acted as their General Counsel, but mainly since they had the meeting I mentioned earlier lined up with some National Park Service officials.
I do not look for any real loosening on National Parks. Perhaps some inroads can be made on National Monument lands which are owned by Indians even if they are under National Park Service jurisdiction. If the owners, the Tribes, wanted to allow B.A.S.E jumping, it could someday be an opening that the National Park Service would consider. National Parks are the second highest tier of protection under Park Service laws. The highest is National Wilderness designation.
We would love to get Black Canyon legal, but the bottom is labeled National Wilderness. Our goal is to convince the Government that responsible backcountry parachuting is a lower level of impact than even hiking. A lot of issues I won’t bore you with, but personally I believe National Parks, especially Yosemite will be off limits for some time.”
If you aren’t catching on to the notion that Rick isn’t just a founding pioneer of B.A.S.E. but a active member who keeps his hand on the pulse of the sport in this ever changing world, you should. He doesn’t allow himself to get trapped in the “good old days”, these are the good old days to Rick, living in the here and now. Simply stated, “The past is the past, the future is now”.
To be continued…Iiro and B.A.S.E 460 discuss their friend Rick and the conclusion.
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