BASE Jumping – SO not illegal

Posted: June 1, 2012 in BASE Jumping
Tags: , ,

Earlier this year I had the privilege of being invited along to watch a pretty spectacular event – four lads, dressed in suits, who had a drink at the bar on the 55th floor of the Rialto, then donned parachutes and jumped off – all in peak hour.  Here’s the (vastly incorrect) story:

Leap of Faith – Age Article

And here’s a random pic of a BASE jumper who may or may not be one of the lads in the story… (hint: it is)


I can’t blame the media for getting it so wrong; virtually every word Shannon Bennett said was incorrect and I actually suspect he got it secondhand from someone who mixed up the groups of guys.  For example:

–                they ordered scotch, not cocktails

–                they paid for their drinks

–                their rigs were in their bags, not under their jackets (they didn’t even wear jackets, just shirt and tie)

–                they were not asked to open their bags at any point

–                they’re not American, only a couple of them are in their twenties…

Anyway, the point of this post is not to diss someone for getting it all wrong, but to talk about the laws they didn’t break.

After the jump, nobody predicted just how huge the story would be for a couple of days.  When it became the lead story on every news outlet in the country, complete with warnings of CCTV footage and police talking heads that said they would find the ‘culprits’, a couple of said culprits got a little nervous.  They’re high profile guys in the sport – one of them was even called upon to give expert comments on one of the TV news bulletins.  Which was pretty damn funny.

The police never did catch them and it dawned on us it was because they hadn’t broken any laws.  There is no law prohibiting BASE jumping in Victoria*.  Let’s look at the laws they could have possibly broken:

1. Recklessly engaging in conduct that places or may place another person in danger of death.  For this to fly, death must be a probable outcome of the conduct that they are engaging in.  As these guys have done this hundreds – even thousands – of times without incident other than to themselves, death to someone else is certainly not a probably outcome.

2. Recklessly engaging in conduct that places or may place another person in danger of serious injury.  As above.

3. Public nuisance.  For this one, someone would have to actually complain.  Nobody did.

4. Reckless destruction of or damage to property.  There was no damage.

5.  Trespass.  They didn’t.

6.  Flying a kite or playing at a game to the annoyance of another person. (Yes, this really exists).   Nobody was annoyed.

So I raise a glass to these guys: they did an awesome, gutsy, James Bondesque stunt, gave the diners and people who were lucky enough to see it a great yarn and harmed nobody.

And if only they’d known how not illegal it was, they could’ve made a tidy sum with appearances on the ‘current affairs’ shows.

*Queensland and NSW do have laws against BASE jumping specifically, but this was done in Vic.

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  1. Richard says:

    Wow i can’t believe its not illegal, does this mean that anyone can buy a parachute and use it in victoria? Wheres the training and rules, and governing body. What if they hurt themselves, or worse someone else do they expect us to scrape them up and fix the bill for them? We need a law to stop these idiots, because they are too stupid to think for themselves.

    • No, really, all the jumpers I met are neanderthals. This is just natural selection at work. It’s best this way. 😉

      • Enoch Root says:

        “No, really, all the jumpers I met are neanderthals. This is just natural selection at work. It’s best this way.”
        So you saw 4 guys jump off a building and walk away without harm and you think they are “neanderthals”? Why? it takes a lot of training an planning and a community of gear manufacturers to have an active BASE jumping sport.
        As you said…it’s legal, does not hurt anyone and looks like fun.People have been trying to fly off buildings for hundreds of years and now that its is accessible you think it’s natural selection?

        • Haha, that was actually an in joke. The commenter I was replying to was one of the guys on the jump 🙂

          It was in fact one of the coolest things I’ve ever witnessed 🙂

          • Enoch Root says:

            Makes sense!
            I was about to sic the people on you.
            They would have forced you to have a good time while traveling to some of the most beautiful places and meeting some more awesome “neanderthals”.

            Too bad you are waaaaay over there in Australia. Come to Norway.

            • I can even lay claim to a few bridge jumps of my own in my way distant past 😉

              If you run into an Aussie girl called Jill over there give her my love. She was working at one of your DZs for the season and I think she’s decided to stay 🙂

  2. Jos says:

    Hey Richard, perhaps you should broaden your horizons, I hear paragliding into a cumulunimbus is quite fun

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