Michael Pelkey

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Michael Pelkey (born 1940) and Brian Schubert (June 23, 1940 – October 21, 2006) are considered among the first fixed object jumpers.

El Capitan jump[edit]

On 24 July 1966 Pelkey and Brian Schubert, two 26-year-old skydivers from Barstow, California, made the first parachute jumps from the top of the El Capitan mountain in Yosemite National Park.[1][2] El Capitan is among the world's tallest sheer monoliths, ascending more than 900m (3000 ft) straight up from Yosemite Valley. It is the second-highest unbroken cliff in the world, the highest being Mt. Thor on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic.

In 1980, the idea of fixed object jumping was expanded by Carl Boenish into the concept of BASE jumping (Buildings, Antennae, Spans, and Earthen objects), including an exclusive club made up of those who made at least one jump from each of the four categories. Members of this club are awarded a number based on the date of their qualification. The sport of BASE jumping, practiced worldwide today and one of the original extreme sports, was inspired in part by Pelkey and Schubert's El Capitan jump.

Later years[edit]

Pelkey and Schubert were honored as guest speakers at the 26th annual "Bridge Day" event in Fayetteville, West Virginia on 15 October 2005, where 175,000 spectators converged over the course of the day to take part in the festival. Approximately 450 BASE jumpers from all over the world made more than 800 parachute jumps off the New River Gorge Bridge into the New River Gorge 876 feet below. The New River Gorge Bridge is the second highest span and one of the few places in the United States where BASE-jumping is legal for six hours, one day a year.

Pelkey made his second BASE jump at the 2005 Bridge Day event from the New River Gorge Bridge. He and Schubert planned to jump together at the 2006 event, a few months after the 40th anniversary of their first El Capitan jump. Schubert died jumping at that event,[2][3][4] just minutes before Pelkey was scheduled to jump.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Ghiglieri, Michael; Farabee, Charles (2007). Off the Wall: Death in Yosemite. Puma Press. p. 83. ISBN 978-0-9700973-7-8. 
  2. ^ a b John Intini (2006-11-13), "The end: Brian Schubert, 1940-2006. A pioneer in BASE jumping, he was a big, tough cop known for compassion and Christmas chili", Maclean's 
  3. ^ "BASE jumper death: parachute failed". Sydney Morning Herald. 2006-10-23. Retrieved 2010-01-22. 
  4. ^ Sarah Hubbard (2006-10-24), "Legendary BASE Jumper Dies at West Virginia Bridge Day Event", Outside (online edition)