World's top BASE jumpers gathered at Anshun city in southwest China's Guizhou Province, ready to jump at the 2012 China Bridge Parachuting International Challenge on Saturday July 21st.
Balinghe Bridge, a suspension bridge spanning the Baling River Valley in Guanling County, is the competition terrain for the parachuting.
With a total length of 2,237 meters, it is also one of the world's highest bridges with 375 meters clearance above the river.
A total of 30 international parachuters from 15 countries carried out warm-up jumping to adapt to the temperature, wind force and other weather conditions of the Baling River Valley Friday afternoon.
John Winkelkotter from the United States, who has won three world champions and broken eight world records in the 1,700 BASE jumps he has completed during the past 21 years, was the first one to jump off the bridge.
He opened the parachute 100 meters above the ground and successfully landed in the designated area.
"It's very good, very, very good. This is the first bridge event in China ever and this is actually the highest bridge, BASE jumping bridge in the world," Winkelkotter said.
Winkelkotter said he enjoyed the fantastic feeling of jumping off the bridge and hoped that more people could watch his show on Saturday.
All the parachuters were excited at the ongoing challenge, but according to BASE jump coaches, it is a dangerous extreme sport.
During each participant's BASE jump, a type of parachuting where the jumper takes off from a fixed point, one's parachute must be opened almost immediately. Parachuters have just about five seconds to get their packs open.
"It is difficult for parachute-jumpers to land at the designated spot which is situated at the bottom of the valley with higher wind speed. So it is dangerous," said Zhao Wenpu, a paragliding coach at a local sports club.
"BASE" is an acronym that stands for four categories of fixed objects from which one can jump: buildings, antennas, spans or bridges, and earth or cliffs.
BASE competitions have been held since the early 1980s, with accurate landings or free fall aerobatics used as the judging criteria.
2012 China Anshun Balinghe Bridge Parachuting International Challenge is the first bridge parachuting competition held in China.