Q: Why is Twin Falls one of the few places that allows BASE jumping?
A: “It’s because we have an amazing bridge for it,” said Sean Chuma, BASE jump instructor and owner of Tandembase.com. “It is as if the bridge was made for BASE jumping. Our town loves and embraces it. It is a huge part of our local economy and brings people and money from all over the world. They spend money on hotels, cars, food, restaurants, etc. BASE is to be celebrated and Twin Falls realizes that.”
BASE jumping is parachuting or wingsuit flying from a fixed structure or cliff. BASE stands for four categories from which one can jump: building, antenna, span, and earth.
The Magic Valley has become an increasingly popular BASE destination because the I.B. Perrine Bridge has good altitude, large landing area, easy access, and an encouraging community.
“The bridge is a great height for jumping,” Chuma said. “It is 486 feet. It has a very good landing area and the river below makes for a great landing option in emergencies. The wind most often blows from the west, which is perfectly down the canyon. This is a good direction for jumping this bridge. It has a pedestrian walkway for easy access. It has two trail options out. You can get a boat down there in case of injuries.”
Jumping off of buildings, towers, and bridges is against the law in most places. Jumpers must gain access to prime spots which often involves trespassing on private property, picking locks, climbing fences, or deceiving security guards. Also the risk of pedestrian injury and traffic disruption are cause for concern.
“BASE jumping became popular on the bridge in the mid 80’s,” Chuma said.
Due to the lower altitudes of the jumps, BASE jumping is significantly more dangerous than skydiving from a plane. Parachutes are designed specifically for rapid deployment.
“People come from all over the world to train for BASE on this bridge,” Chuma said. “People that take my BASE jump course must have 200 or more skydives. It is very important to have a high skill level on a parachute to BASE jump. You don’t need to have any experience to do a tandem BASE jump though.”
In some localities, BASE jumping is prohibited or illegal. The Perrine Bridge may be the only man-made structure in the U.S. where BASE jumping is allowed year-round without a permit.
The extreme sport or stunt became widely known in a number of action movies.