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Get Ready for ‘Bridge Day,’ A Day When You Can Legally BASE Jump in This National Park

The New River Gorge is the newest national park in the U.S. The West Virginia destination is known for its green Appalachian Mountains that the New River carves through. One of the most popular destinations is a bridge that has become famous for the annual Bridge Day event. 

Thousands of people attended to watch BASE jumpers leap off the bridge and parachute to the area below. It’s easily one of the most extreme events in a national park. The park will host the event this year on Saturday, October 21.

bridge day base jumping
The bridge in New River Gorge National Park. (Source: Getty Images)

BASE jumping is not for the faint of heart. The sport includes leaping off of buildings, bridges, and natural cliffs for a quick drop before deploying a parachute. 

Robert Morgan, aka “Scotty Bob” has BASE jumped at Bridge Day since 2008. This year, he and his wife, Julia Bob, will bring a group of their students for their first experience at the New River Gorge. Here’s what he had to say about the sport and the annual event.

Outdoors.com: How did you get into BASE jumping?

Scotty Bob: I started BASE jumping at Bridge Day 2008. I was a parachute-qualified Marine stationed at Camp Lejeune and an avid sport parachutist at the time, and BASE seemed like the next step. I was in between deployments to Operation Iraqi Freedom.  

base jumping at bridge day
Scotty and Julia Bob. (Source: The Bob’s BASE Academy)

Outdoors.com: How does the sport differ from parachuting out of a plane?

Scotty Bob: The biggest differences between BASE and skydiving are time and equipment.  Most skydives last at least a minute in freefall and 3-5 minutes under canopy. Most BASE jumps last less than 30 seconds total from exit to landing, sometimes even less than that. Skills need to be honed in skydiving to be able to react fast enough in this environment. We do not have a reserve parachute in BASE jumping, since the time and altitude are usually not enough to make it useful. Our equipment is optimized for reliability, and we pack meticulously.

Outdoors.com: What makes Bridge Day such a popular event?

Scotty Bob: Bridge Day is the only legal object in the eastern U.S. that is permitted for [a BASE jumping] event.  It’s been happening since the 1980s and draws a huge crowd of spectators every year. The New River Gorge Bridge is also a relatively safe object to learn BASE jumping from.

Outdoors.com: What’s it like to BASE jump in the New River Gorge?

Scotty Bob: Bridge Day is quite different from most of the other jumps we regularly jump around the world. It’s more of a festival atmosphere rather than the quiet of nature. Kind of makes us feel like zoo animals, but it’s fun to be a performer sometimes.

Outdoors.com: Any recommendations for someone looking to get into BASE jumping?

Scotty Bob: Take your time, become a ninja canopy pilot in the skydiving environment, and seek out good instruction and mentorship

Scotty and Julia run a BASE jumping school that runs courses worldwide. Learn more here.

Find out how Bear Grylls overcame his fear of parachuting after breaking his back.

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