United Loses BASE Gear
Well, it was a great trip to Lauterbrunnen. So great I didn’t even have time to blog about it for the three weeks I was there, because I was so busy flying my wingsuit off giant cliffs and shooting lots of awesome/hilarious (at least to me) video footage.
We finally got to jump the Eiger, right before the first snow, getting a bonus helicopter ride to the mushroom from a friend who was making a 3D Imax wingsuit movie (not about us!) and then packing up and hiking right back up to get an amazing two-for-one Eiger day.
It’s funny (well, there are a lot of words I could use for this particular story, but we’ll go with funny), because I always do have this weird superstition about the last jump of a trip. Which was only reinforced when a friend of mine broke his foot on HIS last jump of the trip in Lauterbrunnen this summer.
For all three weeks, I had no scary incidents, no close calls, or anything. Which is pretty good when you are base jumping all day every day. So as usual, when it came time for the final jump of the trip, I couldn’t help but think something could happen. But as usual, I didn’t want to think that in case me thinking it makes something happen. So as usual, I made a point of not thinking it, and then my brain started to hurt.
I don’t like to be ruled by superstition, so I came up with a very clever plan to outsmart the powers-that-be by INTENDING to do a final jump on my last day, and then NOT doing it (haha! gotcha!). Oh, I am so smart sometimes! Until I realized that, being all-knowing and all-seeing, the powers-that-be would know I had that plan and know that my second-to-last jump was actually my last jump, and make THAT be the flight where disaster would strike….and then my brain started to hurt so I just decided to go jump.
So anyway, on my last flight of the trip, I decided to be extra careful. I didn’t even wear my helmet camera, to keep it all simple and clean. And it was a great jump!
The most perfect final flight in Lauterbrunnen I could ask for, from the spectacular Via Ferrata exit, just as the light was starting to dim, after a full day of flying like a bird off of limestone cliffs in glorious Switzerland! Could this life be any more perfect?
Oh, I felt so silly for all my superstition, about the last flight of the trip being the one where the hammer suddenly falls, ha ha ha!!
So yeah. Three weeks in Lauterbrunnen, awesome friends, awesome jumps, awesome everything, just your standard routine month of tossing yourself off cliffs.
Insert JAWS movie theme music here.
We arrived in Zurich airport the next day and checked in 3 bags at the United Airlines counter. Two BASE rigs, two wingsuits, a paraglider, a bit of climbing gear, body armor, warm clothes, etc. When we got to Washington Dulles to go through customs, only 1 bag came. How do you lose two bags on a single, nonstop flight from Switzerland? My brain could not comprehend this.
And then it dawned on me. The awful, sickly realization that I had totally let my guard down after that Via Ferrata wingsuit flight, “my last flight of the trip”. See, that was the second-to-last flight of the trip. THIS flight, here on the United Airlines jumbo jet with movies and vegan meals and seltzer water, THIS was the last flight of the trip! NOOOOO!!!!!
Just when I thought it was safe to go back in the air again.
Much phone calling and harassment has resulted in an email from United, saying we have to wait for two months (TWO MONTHS) before we are sure it’s gone. And they will pay $3174.20 of the $12418.28 this crazy-expensive flying gear actually costs. (Yes, I have receipts).
So, by my math, that means I potentially will get to pay $9244.08 for the privilege of allowing United Airlines to lose my base gear. And they’ll let me know in 60 days if they’re going to even keep looking for it. And I thought base jumping was risky. Yeesh, does the danger never cease?
I was a hell of a lot safer tossing myself off a cliff in a nylon squirrel suit. It’s awfully hard to base jump with no parachutes though. Thanks United! You’re the best!