Daredevils leap off world’s tallest building
Daredevils jumped from the world’s tallest building on Saturday when Malaysia opened a parachuting contest at its landmark Petronas Twin Towers, despite two crashes that dogged last year’s event.
A record 70 people from 16 countries are in Kuala Lumpur for a chance to BASE jump - parachute from a fixed object instead of an airplane — an activity driven underground in most countries for legal reasons.
Onlookers craned their necks to watch jumpers plummet from near the top of the 88-storey, 1,483-foot (452-metre) Tower 2, freefall for four to six seconds, then steer toward a 25-foot (7.6-metre) target on a patch of grass next to a lake.
“This is the tallest building and the most challenging object in the world,” said Jim Surber, who hails from Kansas City and says he is a veteran of “dozens” of jumps.
“Every jump is totally new, it’s always scary. We are all nervous about a jump,” he said after a practice session. “But once you’ve done it, you will feel better.
“I have jumped off cliffs and bridges in the US but this is the best man-made object and we have among the group some of the best BASE jumpers in the world,” he said. BASE stands for Building, Antenna, Span and Earth. Last year, a Dutch diver broke his leg when he hit the Petronas building and crashed onto the roof of a shopping mall after his parachute twisted on opening.
Another jumper hit the wall of the towers but he spun off and landed safely.
Last year’s winner, Johnny Winklekotter, a 33-year-old skydiver from Salt Lake City with 6,000 jumps under his belt, is back this year to defend his title.
One of the highlights of the weeklong event is an exhibition jump involving 10 divers at midnight on December 31 to usher in the New Year.
The jumpers, from Europe, North America, Australia and Japan, have to sign forms indemnifying Petronas in case of accidents.
In most countries a waiver cannot protect owners from legal action so divers leap at night and flee when they land.
“BASE can be a dangerous sport and if not approached in the correct manner can result in serious injury or death,” warns www.basejumper.org. “Margins of error are small.” —Reuters