Friday Freakout: NO PILOT CHUTE… BASE Jumper Miraculously Survives!

Posted by Andrew R.

After 1,500 BASE jumps and 5,000 skydives, Jimmy Pouchert — co-founder of Apex BASE — had come the closest he’s ever been to dying due to a simple yet deadly oversight in his routine gear check. Here’s the backstory and details about the incident in Jimmy’s own words:”This is the closest I’ve ever come to dying. It’s been 2 years, I finally had enough time in between when it happened and now to tell Marta, I asked her if it was right to wait and tell her, and she said yes. Still cried a little, but it rattled her a lot less than if I would have told her right away. Thanks for keeping it on the DL for me until the time was right; Tony Uragallo, Mary Farwell Uragallo, Spike and Jackie Harper, James Boole, Kristina Raskina, Jhonny Flowers, Jay Mo, and whoever else heard whispers. How could this possibly happen? If you asked me if it was even possible, I would have said, no ferking way. 1,500 BASE jumps, 5,000 skydives, until this jump I had NEVER EVER not checked my pilot chute before I put the rig on, then did at least one practice touch to see if it was placed right where I want it. I was jumping a new wingsuit, doing a 2 way with Tony, and I had one pilot chute that I was trading in between jumps between 2 rigs that I was jumping. I was more focused on everything else but the basics. The perfect storm hit me. So what was it like??? I reached back, and felt a lump of bridle in my BOC, so I threw it out. At the time I thought that my pilot chute must have come out and was hung up. Then I looked back over my shoulder and saw to my horror, NO PILOT CHUTE!!! I reached back and pulled the pins with my bridle and tried to throw the parachute out with this. Then I looked for where I was going to land. It was not good. I was headed for the small vineyard next to the landing area in Brento. Wires and wood. I thought, oh man, this is going to hurt. Then I thought about the mess I was going to leave for my friends to deal with and how i might hurt access for other jumpers at this site. Then I thought about my wife Marta and how sad she was going to be. I thought about all the amazing times I was now NOT going to have. Then my parachute OPENED!!! All of these thoughts went through my mind. I had about 4 seconds to put it down in this little clearing next to the vineyard, right up against the trees. I had to turn a 180, so I thumped in a bit, but I was fine. Am I ashamed and embarrassed and humiliated that I made such a huge and simple mistake? Absolutely. Never give up, never surrender. I love you all and when I think about the amazing things that we’ve done over the past 2 years and the even more amazing things we are going to do over the next 20…”