BASE Rolling off Bridges from China to West Virginia

If you don’t yet know who Lonnie Bissonnette is, he is one of the most amazing, courageous, and craziest guys who have ever used a wheelchair. Lonnie is the only paralyzed BASE jumper, and roller in the world who has jumped, or rolled off all four objects, Building, Antenna, Span, Earth.

Lonnie just recently finished BASE rolling off two bridges, one being in China, and just a few weeks later another in West Virginia.

His BASE adventures started in China where Lonnie was personally invited to the first BASE jumping festival on the Aizhai Bridge in Hunan. The 1,080ft-high suspension bridge, which opened on March 31, 2012, is the longest in China.

More than 40 jumpers from 13 different countries including Great Britain, Spain, Germany, Canada, and the United States participated in the event on September 16th, making it Asia's largest celebration of the daredevil sport.

Lonnie arrived at the bridge with several fellow friends and jumpers. Unfortunately when they arrived the bridge was not setup so Lonnie could roll himself off the edge. It took several hours to get things right and it left Lonnie with just enough time for one jump.

He geared up and they lifted him onto the platform where he sat in his wheelchair for several minutes. He then pushed 5 feet forward towards the edge and rolled off doing a front flip into mid air. After one full front flip rotation he deployed his parachute successfully and glided towards the landing area. A loose strap on his gear caused him to veer of course and he had to land in a near by rice patty where he landed without injury.

The crowd and spectators swarmed around Lonnie and all the jumpers, taking their photos, and celebrating their successful death defying jumps.

Several days before and after the bridge day jump Lonnie and his friends were able to see, and visit many places in China, including Chairing on The Great Wall.

 
 
   

Four weeks later Lonnie was in another country ready to roll off another bridge. This time it was in West Virginia in the United States.

Bridge Day is the largest BASE sports event in the world which is held annually on the third Saturday in October in Fayette County, West Virginia (WV), USA.
450 BASE jumpers and nearly 100,000 spectators attended the event.

This year's Bridge Day Festival took place on Saturday, October 20, 2012. The 876' foot tall New River Gorge Bridge, served as the launch point for six hours (9am-3pm EST) of safe, legal BASE-jumping. This is the only day of the year that traffic is shut down and spectators can safely and legally walk across the world's second longest single arch bridge. Vehicular traffic on the Bridge was closed from 7am until approximately 5pm.

Lonnie was once again there for his second year in a row. The crowd and spectators lined the bridge as they watched hundreds of BASE jumpers leaping off the bridge. Lonnie was once again the only one who showed up to jump, or roll off the bridge in a wheelchair. He was also the only paralyzed person to do a BASE on this year’s bridge day.

Lonnie sat in his wheelchair on a 10 by 15 foot platform that was constructed to be above and hang over the bridge railing. After watching over a dozen people leap off the bridge it was time for him to roll off the edge. Lonnie approached the edge, looked down for two seconds, and then dropped off the edge as if he was just dropping down a sidewalk curb. He plunged towards the river 876 feet bellow him in complete free fall for over 150 feet before deploying his chute.

His chute opened perfectly and he glided towards the rocky landing next to the rivers edge. The closer he got towards the ground the more stable and aligned Lonnie looked into rolling into a smooth landing. Unfortunately as soon as his front wheels touched the ground they dug themselves into the gravel sending him into a front endo, hands and face first into the loose river rock.

Fortunately the crash landing looked worse then it was. Lonnie was able to get help from fellow jumpers and sat right up with no serious injuries. He wasn’t the only one to take a slam on their landing, there were several jumpers who tripped or tumbled on landing, and several that ended up in the river, but there were no serious injuries.

Overall the day was beautiful and everything went great. Lonnie said… "I love Bridge Day because we get to see jumpers from all over the world. It's a family reunion here, and I enjoy catching up with everyone. It's very fulfilling to be able to continue to come back here to jump, I know I was tense and nervous, but the tension from [spectators] was unbelievable."

 
 
     
 
 
 
Click on the video above to see Lonnie''s visual perspective,
and how it is to roll off of a bridge
.