New-in-Berlin #5: Base Flying

July 23, 2014

When I visited Alexanderplatz recently, I saw a bunch of people pointing their cameras upwards. I turned my head and thought "Nice reflection!", looking at the image of Berlin's nearby Fernsehturm mirrored in the glass facade of the Park Inn Hotel.

A few seconds later, everybody was screaming, and before I could even take a picture, a person literally fell down from the top of the building. It turned out that this "fun" activity is called "Base Flying", in this case involving the fastest grid winch in the world.

This was a busy Sunday morning, so minutes later the next person jumped, the screaming repeated, and I got the picture that I wanted (shooting at 10 frames per second).

After looking at the images, our recent visit to the 9/11 museum in New York City came to my mind. There is a hidden room deep inside the museum which shows video clips and photographs of people that were forced to jump from the burning floors of the twin towers after being hit by the planes. Warning signs at the entrance of that room prevent you from accidently stepping into the room and prepare you for what you're about to see inside.

It's kind of mentally strange to compare both. With the exceptions of a few milliseconds at the beginning and end of the jump, the rest of the flight is essentially the same. Yet the outcome is totally different. One is fun and excitement, the other one is guaranteed death.

I'm wondering if people would still be willing to jump if they were lead into that secret 9/11 room immediately before their "flight", and whether their personal experience would be the same or not.