Brave or Insane?


BASE Jumping in Norway
By http://www.flickr.com/photos/hakonthingstad/ [www.creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Liz Waid and Adam Navis look at the dangerous extreme sport of BASE Jumping. Are these sports players insane?

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Transcript


Voice 1

Welcome to Spotlight. I’m Liz Waid.

Voice 2

And I’m Adam Navis. Spotlight uses a special English method of broadcasting. It is easier for people to understand, no matter where in the world they live.

Voice 1

A woman is standing at the top of a cliff in Switzerland. She looks down at the valley. It is several thousand feet below her. The wind is strong. It pushes against her body with force. Suddenly, she runs toward the cliff and jumps off. She falls through air for a few seconds. The sharp rocks on the cliff are only a few meters away. She gets closer and closer to the ground.

Voice 2

Then, she opens her parachute. The huge cloth spreads out above her. She holds onto it with thin ropes. The parachute slows her fall. She lands softly on the ground at the bottom of the cliff. She feels excited and strong.

Voice 1

This woman is a BASE jumper. Today’s Spotlight is on this extreme sport.

Voice 2

Thousands of people take part in BASE jumping each year. There are BASE jumpers from every country in the world. Jumpers often travel to different countries to jump from many kinds of objects.

Voice 1

Each letter of the word BASE represents an object that these athletes jump from.

Voice 2

B is for buildings. Many BASE jumps are from very tall buildings like the Eiffel Tower in Paris or the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur.

Voice 1

A is for antennas. These tall structures send radio, television and mobile telephone signals. BASE jumpers also jump from antennas on tall buildings, like the CN Tower in Toronto.

Voice 2

S is for spans. This usually means bridges. There are many popular BASE jumping bridges in places like Utah and Norway.

Voice 1

E is for earth. BASE jumpers also jump from natural formations, like high cliffs and mountains. Or they jump into deep valleys and caves under the ground.

Voice 2

Each BASE jumper tries to get a BASE number. To get this number, a jumper needs to safely jump from each of these four objects. After they do, the original creators of the sport give them a BASE number. Each new jumper gets a number. This number is a symbol of success in the sport. Jumpers are proud if they have a lower BASE number than someone else. Jumpers can also get a BASE night number. To do this, a jumper must jump from all four of these objects at night.

Voice 1

People began jumping off tall objects as early as 1912. Many people wanted to test the parachutes they had made. Some jumps were successful. But some were not. Many people died while jumping.

Voice 2

However, the birth of BASE jumping as a real sport was in 1978. A man named Carl Boenish began filming people jumping off a famous cliff called El Capitan. This is now one of the most popular places to BASE jump in the world. Boenish shared these films. The films made the jumps look exciting. More people wanted to try jumping like this. The sport began to grow.

Voice 1

Many of these first BASE jumpers were professional skydivers. They had jumped from an airplane with a parachute many times before. Some had jumped hundreds of times. But jumping from an object on earth was much different.

Voice 2

There are many dangers in BASE jumping that are not a part of skydiving. The ground is much closer. This means that the time a BASE jumper is in the air is shorter. There is less time to fix any problems that may happen. If something goes wrong with a parachute, there is no time to open a second one.

Voice 1

It is also difficult to know wind direction close to the ground. Strong winds move quickly around buildings, bridges, cliffs, and other large objects. These bursts of wind can throw the jumper against a rock or building. The wind can also turn the jumper around backwards or upside down. This makes it difficult to safely open a parachute.

Voice 2

A BASE jumper only has a few seconds to fall before he opens his parachute. This means that he only has one chance. The jumper needs to choose the safest second to open it.

Voice 1

There is also a new type of BASE jumping called wingsuit jumping. These BASE jumpers wear a special suit with webbing between their arms and legs. This cloth webbing stretches from their arms to their body and between their legs. This gives the jumper a kind of wings.

Voice 2

When a wingsuit diver jumps from an object, the cloth wings slow his fall. He is able to glide through the air more slowly than a regular BASE jumper. He is also able to control the direction he floats through the air. In this way, he moves through the air like a bird. When it is time, he opens his parachute and lands safely on the ground.

Voice 1

But sometimes BASE jumpers do not land safely. The sport is a very dangerous one. On average, one out of every 60 BASE jumpers dies while BASE jumping. In fact, in 1984, the man who made BASE jumping famous, Carl Boenish, died in a jump.

Voice 2

But this is not the only danger. BASE jumpers often break the law to jump. Jumpers like to jump from tall buildings and structures. However, for safety reasons, the owners usually do not want people to jump from their buildings. So jumpers will jump without permission. They may even be arrested!

Voice 1

However, sometimes buildings do permit BASE jumpers to use their property. Often it is to gain the attention of television and newspapers.

Voice 2

This was the case in January of 2010. Two men, Nasser Al Niyadi and Omar Al Hegelan jumped from the Burj Khalifa. This building is in Dubai. It is the tallest building in the world! Two years earlier, two other men had been arrested for jumping from the same building. Those men were arrested, but this jump was different. This time, Niyadi and Hegelan were going to set a new world record.

Voice 1

Niyadi and Hegelan had permission from the owner of the building. Niyadi has completed 2700 BASE jumps. Hegelan is also very experienced. Together, they wanted to set a record for the world’s tallest BASE jump. The Burj Khalifa is 672 meters tall.

Voice 2

Niyadi will never forget the intense experience of jumping from that building. He told the Sunday Times newspaper about his jump. He said:

Voice 3

“It was “the best experience ever... When we were at the top of the building, I was thinking ‘This is insane!’”

Voice 1

Do you think Niyadi was insane? Would you ever BASE jump? Are you insane and brave enough to try it? If you are, there are thousands of people who will be happy to jump with you!

Voice 2

The writer of this program was Johanna Poole. The producer was Michio Ozaki. All quotes were adapted and voiced by Spotlight. You can find our programs on the Internet at www.radioenglish.net. This program is called ‘Brave or Insane?’ We hope you can join us again for the next Spotlight program. Goodbye.

Question:

Do you enjoy extreme sports? What is the most extreme sport you have ever done?

Comments


Avatar Spotlight
fahad3155
said on August 12, 2011

IT WAS VERY GOOD NOW I HAVE NEW VECABLARY FROM THIS VOICES THANK YOU

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Rain Bows
said on September 18, 2012

It is definitely insane!
I would rather skydive instead of doing BASE jump.
But sounds amazing, I wonder how much of adrenaline I can feel!
I hope one of these days I dream about Base jumping.
Thanks for the article,
Greetings,
Manta-Ecuador.

Luis Piedra's avatar
Luis Piedra
said on September 18, 2012

It is a very interesting

Luis Piedra's avatar
Luis Piedra
said on September 18, 2012

It is a very interesting article.

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wsbaser
said on September 20, 2012

The best video about wing suite base jumping: http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=oaMTSOI1Zk4 Since I’h seen this video - it became my dream. I should do 200 skydiving jumps to be allowed for jumping in wing suite. And I’ll do it. It is just the question of time.

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Tod
said on September 21, 2012

I think it’s insane. It does not sound suitable to call those jumper brave…Have they thought they jump like that for what? I mean the goal or aim of the action. Or they just do it because they feel interesting, for the entertainment. They should think of the aftermaths or consequences, think of their family….Brave? i think it’s obviously not a proper word in this case

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paulo86nirisco
said on November 15, 2013

This is radical sport I have no courage to practice this, but I admire who does.

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Dela
said on November 16, 2013

These jumpers certainly need adrenalin urgently and jumping gives it to them a lot. There are many various types of sport and the different humans’ hobbies too… However, the purpose of this activity seems to be controversial largely. I guess unwise taking one’s life cannot be called the bravery.
Greetings!

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hayalperest44
said on July 09, 2018

I don’t like extreme sports because they are frightening.  :) Most extreme sport I have done is high jump from a rock to the sea. :)

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Honneur
said on July 10, 2018

I don’t like unnecessary risks. To live is very dangerous, it said constantly Riobaldo, in O Grande Sertão: Veredas, and I agree whit him. So, why I’ll increase the risks in my life? It’s insane… I played football against a team of convicts, in the prison of the Brazilian Army and this was the most dangerous sport I played.