Our new jumper catapult system made its debut at Bridge Day 2012 with the launch of 24 experienced BASE jumpers. The 2500 lb. steel catapult contains a 12' launching arm that rotates 70° in one second, hurling each jumper up to 20' vertically and 50' horizontally over the edge of the 876' tall New River Gorge Bridge. A maximum of 40 slots will be sold for Bridge Day 2014.
There will be no free catapult launches. With tens of thousands of dollars invested in the catapult and trailer, not including hundreds of hours of labor with assembling and testing, we cannot give away catapult jumps to any jumper, staff member, or any other VIP. If Carl Boenish came back from the dead, we'd charge him the full price (Jean would have to pay double, though). You can buy catapult slots on our web store or take the risk of buying them at the event. If the price is too high, you can always build your own catapult.
Prefer 50+ BASE jumps
Must have purchased a Bridge Day 2014 jump pass or be a Bridge Day staff member.
Must be proficient in BASE aerials and the ability to return to a belly-to-earth position at subterminal speeds.
Must attend a catapult briefing on Friday, October 17, 2014 at 2:00pm in the Holiday Lodge Oak Hill rear parking lot to become familiar with the catapult and the dynamics of the launch. Bring your rig so you can see how it feels while sitting in the chair. If you can't attend this meeting, you'll be required to spend some time sitting in the catapult chair on Bridge Day and familiarizing yourself with the system. This meeting is not required for those previously launched.
What You Get
At least one launch from the catapult during Bridge Day 2014. No refunds if you fail to show up. If everyone has been launched, we may permit some jumpers to be launched a second time.
Video of your jump captured from the top of our catapult chair. Videos will be provided to each jumper as soon as possible after Bridge Day.
The ability to tell everyone you've been launched from a catapult over an 876' tall bridge
We'll coordinate the timing of each person's launch at the October 17, 2:00pm meeting. The current schedule calls for at least two people to be launched every 15 minutes starting at 9:15am. If need be, we can launch any time of the day in order to get all 40 jumpers off the bridge. However, we'd also like to insure that launches occur every 20-30 minutes so that spectators can enjoy the show.
Will launches cause jumping delays?
No. Once a jumper is ready to be launched, we'll stop jumping on the main ramp. Then, we'll verify that we have clear airspace and immediately activate the catapult. We'll make sure no jumping delays result from the use of the catapult. .
Will you still follow the "no one jumps a 2nd time until everyone has jumped once" rule?
Yes. Catapult launches are not treated any different than regular solo jumps. No one will make a second BASE jump until everyone has jumped at least once. For example, if you are catapulted off the bridge at 9:30am and you're in Group 1, you'll still have to wait until the last person in Group 4 has jumped in order to make your second jump. The only exception to this rule are a few staff members who may make several jumps early in the day since they will be working the 12pm-3pm shift.
Why does it cost so much?
For the last three years, we spent tens of thousands of dollars and hundreds of hours designing, fabricating, assembling, and testing the catapult. The price of one catapult launch won't even cover the cost of the fabric cover (bellows) for the pneumatic cylinder or the foam padding in the chair. We've also spent well over $1000 in 2013 with upgrades to the seat and air tank wire rope isolators.
What does the launch feel like?
We've launched hundreds of people into water and 50+ people off the New River Gorge Bridge at Bridge Day. Some would compare the experience to their first skydive or BASE jump with an enormous amount of sensory overload. The launch is smooth, yet powerful.
Are the G forces high?
Not at all. Some people report that the launch is so smooth that they didn't even know they were accelerating until they left the chair.
Will I have to support my neck?
No. There have been no issues with people having to support their neck during the launch.
How will I have to sit in the chair?
People have been launched from the chair in five different body positions. We'll go over the positives and negatives of each position at the catapult meeting. You may find that sitting in an awkward position in the chair may provide for a more pleasurable jumping experience. Depending on your comfort factor with forward or reverse flips, we can offer some suggestions as well. There is also the likelihood that you can remain stable in a belly-to-earth position throughout the launch and we'll cover this in more detail at the meeting.
Is the seat padded?
Yes. We've got 4" of foam under a smooth parapak seat cover. There are no obstructions, handles, or snag points.
Can I fall out of the chair during the launch?
It's nearly impossible to fall out of the chair due to the bucket design and large size.
What happens if there is a soft launch?
A "soft launch" is the term we use to describe a situation where the catapult raises the chair too slowly and the jumper simply falls out of the chair in front of the catapult. The good news is that a soft launch can only occur if the person operating the catapult wants it to happen. It takes an enormous amount of force to begin rotation of the catapult arm and once it's moving, it always accelerates. As the arm rotates, it requires less force to accelerate because the weight of the jumper shifts from a large moment (jumper and rotation point are both horizontal to one another) to a smaller one (the jumpers weight moves over the rotation point). In other words, once we get the chair moving, it's not going to stop and it'll only accelerate throughout the stroke. So, there are no concerns of a soft launch.
Can I bring my own video camera?
Absolutely, and we recommend it.
Are there weight/age restrictions?
For Bridge Day, we require that you're over 18 years old and under 300 lbs. For water launches outside of Bridge Day, we've launched kids as young as 12 years old at weight ranges from 90-350 lbs. We've even launched several two-ways.
Can I get video or stills of my launch?
As part of your catapult launch fee, you'll get a free copy of the video captured from the top of the catapult chair. You can also purchase still photos and/or other videos from the Bridge Day website.
What happens if the catapult is unavailable at Bridge Day due to equipment failure or sale?
We will return 100% of the money paid for the launch.