Behind Bridge Day's Tandem BASE jumping
Jason Bell is deeply involved, not only as the head of BASE for the event, but also the driving force behind some of Bridge Day's biggest innovations.
When he first became involved in 2002, the Bridge Day name wasn't even trademarked yet. He came onboard with a sponsor because he was a well-known jumper in the state, and said it sort of snowballed from there. He now operates Vertical Visions, managing the BASE jumping portion of the event, putting in hundreds of hours per year. Some of that time has been spent innovating.
"I wanted to offer something new," he said. "And that's one of the reasons I proposed tandem jumping."
Bell said he went to the Bridge Day commission with the idea not only to mix things up, but for the love of sharing his sport in a positive way, with like-minded people.
"It's a few seconds of free fall, and they're not really steering their parachute, and they don't have as much of the worry, and the control, and the challenge as the instructor does," he said. "They're probably just getting one heck of a ride, and just loving it."
He said some BASE jumpers didn't approve of the tandems, because they felt like they'd worked hard to get the opportunity themselves. But Bell said he probably would have done it, had the option been available to him.
"These are probably already people that are a little bit like us (BASE jumpers) to begin with," he said. "We share a little blood to some degree, the same sort of brain that separates us from 99% of the world. Not just anybody would be willing to jump off a bridge."
And for those who would, tandem definitely offers an advantage.
"It probably cost me $20,000 and hundreds and hundreds of hours until I could get to the point where I could jump off a bridge by myself," Bell said. "For $999, they can go out and do the same thing, attached to an experienced BASE jumper. It's neat to offer people that, and to further our sport."
Apparently a lot of people see that advantage; Bell said he has a waiting list of nearly 70 people for only 10-15 slots in 2014.
Want to try to snag one of those slots? To be one of the first to know when the tandems go on sale, sign up for the Bridge Day newsletter. (The signup is just above this blog post.)
And, if you miss it, there's always 1 lucky leaper who wins a free jump in the Tandem BASE Jump Contest.
Would you tandem BASE jump?