Usually if someone is about to jump off a bridge, law enforcement is called to talk them out of it. In the Magic Valley, sometimes those officials are the ones doing the jumping.
Since opening Tandem BASE, a parachuting operation that sends instructors paired with students off the Perrine Bridge, owner Mark Kissner and his team have seen a steady stream of locals and visitors lining up to hop off the side of a perfectly good structure and soar to the ground below.
The bridge has long been a popular jumping spot, but Tandem BASE marks the first time that a company has been set up to offer it as a regular outing. The 486-foot drop to the floor of the Snake River Canyon is breathtaking in many ways, and both experts and novices alike flock to the area to avail themselves of the opportunity, Kissner says.
Tandem Jumpers Like Accessibility
“People always like to do it, so we thought there’d be enough interest for regular jumps,” he says. “Since we opened a year ago, we’ve seen a lot of people who come through the area stop to try it, so we’re kind of a tourist attraction now, which we are pleased about.”
Everyone from Twin Falls octogenarian Lena Thomas to Sheriff Doug McFall of Jerome has jumped, and they’ve all got a story to tell. For McFall, whose parachuting days go back to a stint at Fort Campbell in 1977, this was one more way to get from sky to earth in a novel fashion.
“I had some guys say they had three rigs packed and ready to go, and there were only two of them, so it seemed like a good idea at that time,” McFall says. “We had a high school class reunion, and a few of them did the tandem jump. If you’re trained, you can do it alone, and if not, you can work with an instructor and ride down with them, so they really do have something for everybody and every skill level.”
Activity Provides Economic-Development Boost
All this flying about is good for tourism, adds Shawn Barigar, president and CEO of the Twin Falls Area Chamber of Commerce.
“BASE jumping is an extreme sport that has typically only been available for trained athletes. Tandem BASE expands the thrill-seeking opportunities to a much larger audience, allowing the general public to participate in the sport under the trained supervision of the Tandem BASE operators,” Barigar says.
“This new activity is just one more item to add to the itinerary on a visit to Southern Idaho. And we're the only place in the world where one can take part in this exciting activity!”
From rock climbing at the City of Rocks to whitewater rafting on the Snake River, Twin Falls is the most death-defying city in the country, Barigar adds, and this is just one more way for people to live on the edge.
“With Tandem BASE, there's no experience required – just that thrill-seeking mindset and the courage to step off that ledge with the Tandem BASE operator.”
Discover more on BASE jumping in Twin Falls, ID.