Fatalities in wingsuit BASE jumping

Wilderness Environ Med. 2013 Dec;24(4):321-7. doi: 10.1016/j.wem.2013.06.010.


Objective: To analyze fatality data associated with wingsuit use in an international case series of fixed-object sport parachuting (BASE jumping) to identify incident and injury mechanisms and to form a basis for potential prevention measures and future safety recommendations.

Methods: A descriptive epidemiological study was performed of fatal injury events occurring in wingsuit BASE jumping. Fatalities (n = 180) were sequentially analyzed assessing human, equipment, and environmental factors from 1981 to 2011. Main outcome measures included descriptions of typical fatal incident and injury mechanisms.

Results: Of the 180 fatal events, 39 (22%) were related to use of wingsuits; 38 (97%) launched from cliffs and 1 (3%) from a building. Of the 39 fatalities, 19 (49%) were caused from cliff strikes, 18 (46%) from ground impact, and 1 (3%) from a building strike. Thirty-eight (97%) of the fatalities were male. During 2002 to 2007 there was a total of 61 BASE jumping deaths, 10 (16%) of which were related to the use of wingsuits, whereas during 2008 to 2011 there was a total 59 fatal events, of which 29 (49%) were related to the use of wingsuits. Seventeen fatalities (39%) were attributed to wingsuit path miscalculation. In the first 8 months of 2013, 17 of 19 (90%) fatalities were wingsuit related. Most fatalities occurred between April and October, reflecting a seasonal increase in activity in the northern hemisphere summer.

Conclusions: Wingsuit-related BASE jump fatalities appear to be increasing as wingsuit BASE jumping increases in popularity. Most fatalities are attributed to cliff or ground impact, and are mostly the result of flying path miscalculation.

Keywords: BASE jumping; fatalities; sport parachuting; wingsuit.

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / etiology*
  • Athletic Injuries / mortality*
  • Athletic Injuries / prevention & control
  • Cause of Death
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Risk Factors
  • Safety
  • Sports
  • Sports Equipment / adverse effects