Wait … BASE jumping vs skydiving? Are they not the same thing? Nope. BASE jumping varies from skydiving in many ways, let’s take a further look into the similarities and differences between these two exhilarating feats!
Skydiving is an extreme sport where someone (or a tandem pair) jumps from a moving aircraft while wearing a rig that includes two parachutes. A skydive generally includes an exit, freefall, parachute (canopy) ride, and then a landing.
Tandem skydiving is the sport’s gift to the world! A tandem jump allows a complete novice – perhaps, someone who has never even been in an airplane before – to be secured to a professional skydiving instructor, and then JUMP! Doing a tandem skydive is the most common way for people to be introduced to the sport, and is the first step in earning a solo skydiving license .
What is BASE jumping? BASE jumping is when someone (or a tandem pair – eek!) leaps from an inanimate object. What does B.A.S.E. stand for in BASE jumping? Let’s break it down!
B: Building; skyscrapers
A: Antennae; radio and television towers
S: Span; bridges – check out Miles Daisher’s jumps from the infamous Perrine Bridge in Idaho.
E: Earth; cliffs or other natural formations, such as the curvaceous orange earth of Moab, Utah – these are true cliffside conquests!
A huge difference between the two sports is the equipment used. BASE jumping equipment includes a rig (the backpack part), a parachute, and a helmet. Skydiving equipment includes the same PLUS a second (reserve) parachute, an Automatic Activation Device (AAD), and a Reserve Static Line (RSL).
Skydiving does not induce the “butterflies in your stomach” feeling like BASE jumping does. Why? Skydivers don’t launch from a stagnant platform! Although skydivers do enter freefall, they do so very gradually. The aircraft they leave from is already moving forward, so the deadweight feeling of falling is not present. However, skydivers can experience the tummy tingles if they choose to jump from objects with next-to-nothing forward movement, like helicopters or hot air balloons.
Although skydives can be completed from lower altitudes (where there is no or very minimal freefall time), they don’t even come close to the height that BASE jumps are done from. BASE jumps happen from anywhere between a couple hundred feet to over 1,000 feet. On the other end of the spectrum, modern-day skydivers generally have a minimum exit altitude of 2,500 feet, while most opt to leave from much higher up. At Skydive Carolina, we exit at 13,500 feet.
While the skydiving realm in the US is governed by both the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the United States Parachute Association (USPA), the BASE community lacks any sort of governance. This is one reason that BASE jumping carries a higher level of inherent risk than skydiving.
Both skydiving and BASE jumping are extreme sports, and with that, comes an influx of all sorts of happy chemicals, including adrenaline.
The skydiving community – about which we will never stop bragging! – is pinnacle to the success of our sport. Both the BASE and skydiving communities are strong and fabulously woven clans that span the globe. People supporting people (which means placing a precedence on safety) within both sports are what enable us to continuously do what we love!
Although the training for each sport varies, both require extensive and intentional training, knowledge, and growth. Meaning, both sports have a progression path. Skydivers may choose to delve into specific disciplines, while BASE jumpers can advance their skills in other ways, such as traveling to new or more challenging platforms. Progressing in both sports requires jumping with those who are better than you! Skydivers often say, “The learning never stops,” which rings true in the BASE community, as well.
How many skydives before BASE jumping are required? Many BASE schools place priority on skills, not just jump numbers. That being said, the general requirement to even think about beginning a BASE journey is anywhere between 200 and 500 skydives. How many skydives are needed before learning to skydive solo? One. That’s right … one tandem jump (and some intensive ground training) is all it takes!
Is skydiving better than base jumping? Heck to the YESSS! Okay, we’re skydivers, so we’re a bit biased. While seemingly similar, skydiving and BASE jumping aren’t even on the same playing field, and therefore, are incomparable.
Whether you wish to BASE jump one day or are happy to jump from good ol’ airplanes, you have to start with jump #1! We can’t wait to soar the skies with you!
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