August 8th, 1978 new
by By Nick Di Giovanni
No one can say who made the first successful fixed object jump using a parachute because it’s lost in a blur of history and misunderstanding. However, there’s a more recent date we can and should observe.
Twenty five years ago on August 8th 1978 (this Friday) a small group of jumpers stood atop Yosemite’s El Capitan. Several reconnoiters to the top, hours spent looking over the edge, calculations and reckoning all say it’s possible. There’s nothing left to do, but to do it.
Kent Lane stands and tightens his leg straps. He glances back at second off (to be) Tom Start, third off Mike Sherrin and fourth off Ken Gosselin, friends he’s known all his jumping life. And they are looking at him in a way he’s never seen before.
Quietly, “rolling,” is heard in the morning air as Carl Boenish’s cameras whirl into action and Kent takes a deep breath and a few steps, and disappears over the edge. And then, one by one, so do Tom, Mike and Ken. They all four track away from the big wall going ten to eleven seconds before using ram air canopies to land smoothly, no fuss, no muss, in the meadow below.
This is the day fixed object jumping became repeatable and the day it became a sport. Kent later said it is the most memorable jump of his career. He says he’s, “dosed by pure velocity.”
Carl’s films of that morning bowled jumpers over when he first showed them later at the drop zone. His films not only conveyed the magic and beauty of the whole thing, it also made it look rather easy and fun. Guys in the sport for thirty years are walking around saying, “Man, I never even thought of that.”
So I suppose as we credit Carl for giving us all a path to follow we must also acknowledge he’s also the first site blower, in fact he blew the whole frigging sport!
Be, I think, more concerned with saving lives rather than sites, places that in the long run never really go anywhere anyway. Happy Birthday!
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Ken and I traveled to the beautiful Yosemite Valley last weekend and ken relived his epic adventure in story form. What a treat!
The ABC Wide World of Sports segment on the event was only a couple of minutes long, yet there are hours of film documenting the entire adventure from beginning to landing. I would like to make a documentary on the First BASE Jump. What do you think? I know, it would be a huge amount of work...
The footage sounds very exciting. The historical value alone will be worth the price of admission! The cinematographers were network professionals from The Wide World of Sports so they no doubt covered the entire event from preparation to completion and everything in between. It will be interesting to see the guys approach, anticipation and angst as they bravely go where no others before had gone. This could be a gem of a documentary.. A true testimonial of the human spirit...
and it's the real deal..