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BASE Jumping: Articles: General: BASE Historical Timeline

BASE Historical Timeline updated

by BASEwiki

15th century In the 15th century, we find the famous genius of all times, LEONARDO DA VINCI, painter, sculptor, mathematician, scientist, engineer, designer and builder of many devices. He studied birds and flight for several years and got basic conclusions in aeronautics. The parachute he designed was pyramidal-shaped, as can be appreciated in drawings included in his notebooks. His original idea was to build a device to rescue people from burning buildings. Although we don’t know if he tried this parachute, many people consider LEONARDO DA VINCI the "Father of the Parachute".

1616 In 1616 we find a croatian guy, born as FAUST VRANCIC in sibenik, also known as FAUSTO DE VERANZIO, who published a book called "Machinae Nova", in which appeard a diagram titled "Homo Volans", showing a man jumping from a tower, with a square canvas parachute, attached to the jumper’s harness with four lines, as can be seen in this picture. This drawing is very similar to the parachutes actually used for sport parachuting.

1779 In 1779, SEBASTIAN LE NORMAND, a french physicist, studied about parachutes throwing animals. Due to his many studies, we can consider him the first systematic parachute constructor.

1785 It was in 1785 that JEAN PIERRE BLANCHARD, a french balloonist, designed and built the first silk canopy parachute, which could be packed. Before that, parachutes were built with a rigid framework. In 1793, he did an emergency jump from a balloon and broke his legs.

1906 A British expatriate named Bobby Leach jumped from the Rainbow Bridge between Niagara Falls, Ontario and Niagara Falls, New York with a parachute in 1906, landing in the Niagara River. At that time the bridge was only about half the distance from the falls that it is now (original bridge was destroyed by ice in the ‘30's). Leach was a daredevil, twice swimming across the Whirlpool rapids as a stunt. He later jumped from a plane over Canada but was blown back and landed in New York.

1912 Frederick Laws jumped from the torch of the statue of liberty in February, 1912. A photo of the jump appeared in one of Phil Smith’s Baseline mags.

1914 Stefan Banic, a Slovak inventor, constructed and tested a prototype of a parachute in Washington, D.C. by jumping from a 41-floor building and subsequently from an airplane. His patented parachute became standard equipment for U.S. pilots during World War I.

1917 Major Orde-Lees and Lieutenant A. E. Bowen made jumps from Tower Bridge on sunday, November 11, 1917 with Calthrop’s ‘Guardian Angel’ s 150' into the Thames to attempt to convince the Air Admiralty to buy parachutes for their pilots.

1920's & 1930's In the 20's and 30's John Tranum did a jump from 154' Pasadena Bridge in California and rode a motorcycle off a 1000' cliff, parachuting down safely.

1966 Bryan Schubert and Mike Pelkey parachute from El Capitan, in California’s Yosemite National Park. They use unmodified skydiving gear with round parachutes, and both sustain injuries from landing in wind.

Feb. 15, 1976 Don Boyles first to BASE jump the Royal Goerge Bridge

Summer 1978 Two week trial legal BASE Jumping period on El Capitan in Yosemite National Park in California.

1981 BASE Magazine, Published by Carl Boenish, BASE #4 Six issues were published all in the same year. This was the very first BASE magazine. The early issues covered cliff jumping mostly, the later ones covered all the BASEs and was instrumental in helping launch Carl’s BASE numbering system we still use today.

Jan. 18, 1981 Phil Smith was awarded B.A.S.E. #1.

Oct. 17, 1981 First Bridge Day BASE Jumps made in West Virginia by Carl / Jean Boenish and 4 others.

1984 Carl Boenish, "Father" of BASE jumping, is killed on the Troll Wall, Norway.

1986 - 1988 BASELINE Magazine, Published by Phil Smith, BASE #1, The longest running of them all, this was probably the best known BASE magazine as well. In the last year or two, Andy Calistrate joined to help Phil. The early issues were informative and useful. The later issues weren?t as helpful, but the were fun to read in a weird sort of way. Andy later steered the magazine toward the darker side of BASE jumping.

1987 JUMP Magazine, Published by Nigel Slee, BASE #? (see note below) This magazine was published in England. At the time the British Parachute Association is still banning folks for life when they are caught BASE jumping. Photos in the magazine sometimes sported blackouts over the jumpers eyes and faces just like something out of 1920s porno books.

1989 - 1994 The FIXED OBJECT JOURNAL, Published by Nick Di Giovanni, BASE #194. This was around longer than most but didn?t produce as many issues as some of the others, about 8 in all.

Jan. 18, 1991 Earl Redfern was awarded B.A.S.E. #300.

Nov. 1, 1994 Jamie Cardo recieves B.A.S.E. #400

1997 The BASE Newsletter, Published by Gerald Harendza, B.A.S.E. 75

Oct. 9, 1999 Dennis McGlynn begins 3 month jail term after being convicted of a class B misdemeanor for BASE Jumping in Lake Powel Recreational Area.

Oct. 22, 1999 Yosemite National Park Protest held to end NPS descrimination.

Submitted by BASEwiki on 2007-06-04 | Last Modified on 2010-04-16

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Correction regarding the "first Bridge Day" comment: Dennis Wood, Miguel Fernandez, Ken Hamilton, Andy Macintyre, and Bob Wolf are the first five jumpers to legally jump the bridge on Saturday, November 8, 1980. This fact is outlined on several Bridge Day history websites and I personally heard this story from Bob in the 1990's. Thanks.
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Another correction: The first jumper off the bridge was Burton Ervin , Friday Aug 1st, 1979
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Another correction. Don Boyles was the first modern Bridge jumper off of the Royal Gorge Bridge, but it was in Sept. of 1970, not 1976. He used a B-4 harness and a 28' TU cheepo with a sleeve. I know Don and he gave me photos of that jump.
Rick H
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I knew Ken Hamilton from Morehead city. I saw a video of the 81 jump set to the song "Oh, What a lucky man he was" He broke both knees and ,pelvis knocked out most of his teeth. He Jumped in Beaufort with his jaw wired shut, He got drunk one night went down to the beach and floated up some time later. Would love to see the video if its out there
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And what after 1999? Time to update ;)
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a more up-to-date version:

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