Another BASE Jumping Tragedy Makes Us Question Fearless Fun
After the horrific news of Dean Potter and Graham Hunt’s deaths in Yosemite, we learned that life is fragile. The two role models lived life to the fullest and encouraged their fans to do the same. Every adventure sport is dangerous to some degree, but let’s go ahead and put BASE jumping toward the top. As a result of the many BASE jumping deaths that have occurred since record keeping began, Ian Flanders, a 37-year-old BASE jumper from Southern California, decided to begin filming a documentary on the dangers of the BASE world, particularly on the many recent deaths. After a fatal accident at an extreme sports event in Turkey, Flanders became the 264th person to die from BASE jumping since record keeping began.
BASE jumping stands for building, antenna, span, and earth. On his last jump in Turkey, Flanders’ parachute got tangled around his leg, and he dove into the Karasu gorge. The tragic death was captured on live television by a local station. Ironically, this extreme sports event hosted BASE jumping, while in Potter and Hunt’s case, BASE jumping is illegal in Yosemite. The event was the first ever Wingsuit Exit Jump as part of the second day of the International Culture and Nature Sports Festival in Erzincan’s Kemaliye district. Flanders was taking off from an altitude of about 8,000 feet, or about a mile and a half. The athletes were recorded up to 124 mph before releasing their parachutes.
Grayson Schaffer, editor of Outside magazine, told CBS, “The BASE jumping and, especially the wingsuit community, is facing a real epidemic right now. Wingsuiters are dying at a rate unheard of in any other sport. It seems like not a month goes by without a well-known BASE jumper or wing-suit flyer dying these days.”
It is important to acknowledge first the bravery and skill of Ian Flanders. He was known for his death-defying jumps, and even on his last jump, an accident cannot overlook his hard work and gracefulness throughout his entire BASE career. On the other hand, we must also take this heartbreaking story as a reminder to always follow safety precautions, learn from experts, and always participate in action sports mindfully and with the right intent.