Base Flying Berlin: An 11th Wedding Anniversary Jump (Video)

What is marriage, if not a leap of faith?

Fourteen years ago, on or around our second date, Audrey and I went skydiving together. It was, as you might imagine, both terrifying and fantastic. And as much as you also might also imagine that it wiped away my fear of heights, it did not. Perhaps it chiseled away at that wall, but it certainly didn’t tear it down. I still swoon thinking about that airplane canopy above 16,000 feet. I still get wobbly above 10 stories.

So here we are 14 years later in Berlin, celebrating our 11th wedding anniversary. What better way to recognize the occasion than to jump (base fly) from the top of a 37-story building?

Berlin Base FlyingPhoto courtesy of Yuhang Yuan, one of our awesome friends who came out to support us

Berlin Base Flying: The Experience

As often happens in life, it’s one thing to talk about doing something and quite another to actually do it. The same goes for launching oneself from a tall building in Berlin.

Base Flying at Alexander Platz, Berlin
Hanging above Berlin, waiting for the 400 foot drop

The following video tells that story. If after the video you stick around to read the rest of this piece, we’ll explain what base flying is. And we’ll offer a little marriage advice.

Video: Base Flying in Berlin: Celebrating 11 Years of Marriage

Special thanks to Sarah Everts for her camera work and support.

The Base Flying Process, Start to Finish

We arrived at the lobby of the Park Inn and were given one of those “this is totally safe, but there’s an outside chance you might end up like a pancake” waivers to sign. Here are my favorite segments:

Precondition is a good physical and intellectual constitution as the execution of this event can entail a considerable physical and mental exposure

Not to be outdone, it follows:

The organizer assumes no liability for soiling or damaging clothing worn during the fall.

Rough translation: If you poop your pants, it’s on you.

I had reservations on both accounts, but I signed anyhow.

As for the mechanics of the base flying process, it’s pretty quick. (And I’m pleased to report, painless):

1) Go to the roof of the building (take an elevator, then walk up the stairs from floor 37). The view from atop the Park Inn Berlin is spectacular, especially if the weather is as immaculate as it was on the day of our jump.

2) Get outfitted in a harness and hooked to an industrial strength wire contraption that is attached to the side and roof of the building.

3) You try out your harness rig in a superman pose above stable ground with one of the crew.

4) The crew walks you out to the edge of the jumping platform where you are raised on the hook and out over open ground. This is profoundly terrifying. You pretend like you are thrilled and look at the camera. Remember to smile.

Berlin Base Flying - Dan About to Go!
Forcing a smile through the terror

5) Then you drop, free-falling for about 5 seconds (but time almost stands still). Wild. As you reach the end, the wire suspension device executes a controlled deceleration so you experience absolutely no sudden jerking motion as you might with bungee jumping.

Berlin Base Flying - Alexanderplatz
View from below

6) Run around Alexanderplatz in your white jumpsuits, hug your friends who have been cheering you on and head over to Pfefferhaus for a round of hot sauce tasting (stay tuned for our next piece).

And Finally, A Little Marriage Advice

When people ask us for marriage advice, I often feel like a kid, not the sort of person you go to for marriage counsel.

Friends who had been married only a few years recently asked, “So what advice can you give after 11 years?

I replied: “You’re married, right? Then it’s too late

But quite seriously, here’s my 11-year-thoughts-on-marriage offer: Marriage is a lot of work, much in the way a garden might be. You reap the rewards that you sow.

Now go forth and jump off a building.

Berlin Base Flying - We Made It!
We Did It!

How to Go Base Flying in Berlin

Location: Park Inn at Alexanderplatz, Berlin. Jochen Schweizer is the company that operates the base flying. Look for their desk near the concierge.

Operating hours: Usually open only on weekends, weather permitting. Call ahead to be sure it’s open.

Costs: Although base flying may not be the cheapest activity going in Berlin, the price strikes us as pretty fair considering how unique this experience is and the safety and sophistication of the equipment. Try to go early in the morning for the best deals.

  • Basic Base-Flying: €79
  • 2nd person: €39
  • Early Bird (10-11 AM): €49
  • Happy Hour (18-19 AM): €59

We asked how many people chicken out once they are on the roof. The crew’s response: “It’s actually very few people – only about 2-3%. And it’s usually the guys with the big mouths talking it up the most.”

Thanks and Disclosure:
First off, a big thanks to the Jochen Schweizer crew on top of the Park Inn. Cedrik, Tilman and the rest of the folks were safety conscious, supportive and very funny (check out Tilman in the video) — exactly the type of people you want around you when you’re about to jump off a building.

Our base flying experience was provided to us by Jochen Schweizer, an experience company whose offers include high adrenaline and adventure activities around the world.

As always, these words, experiences and opinions are entirely our own.

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Comments

  1. says

    You guys are awesome!!! Love the post, photos and most of all that this is what you did to celebrate your anniversary. Amazing … although I’m terribly afraid to try this.

  2. says

    Loved seeing this, and I remember Dan talking about not loving heights when we were ziplining in Chile. Good on both of you, and I love the different shots your photog put together.

    Happy anniversary guys!

  3. Pete De Ritter says

    Having been married for 36 years, I have to admit there were a few times I thought about jumping off a tall building. ;-) The disclaimers remind me of the one I saw on a big roller coaster I rode, “Please make sure all prosthetic devices are securely fastened.” HAPPY ANNIVERSARY! May you have many wonderful years together.

  4. Agne says

    I can’t stop smiling and laughing after I watched the video and kept reading your post :) It’s soooo funny and so nice! I am very glad you did it! The guy from the crew has a great sense of humour :) Loved it!
    Congratulations, guys! Lot’s of love from Samui :)

  5. says

    @Cheryl: Thanks! Glad you enjoyed it. The planning for this wasn’t long in advance. It all just came together — event, weather, wedding anniversary and all.

    Even if you are terribly afraid (trust me, I appreciate that), this is as good a method as any to poke around the edges of your fear of heights. Thrilling and not quite as steep as jumping out of an airplane.

    @Eileen: Thanks! Yep, that hanging in mid-air thing and what it does to your stomach. Similar issues, though base flying is shorter, much more intense.

    As for the photos, it was a group effort. Thanks to our friends and the JS staff on the roof.

    @Zoë: And you, too. Thanks. Looking forward to it!

    @Kiran: As dates and anniversaries go, this will go down permanently in the virtual memory book.

    @Pete: Thank you. Am laughing with you, again. Wow, warnings about prosthetic devices — new to me, but makes perfect, rather frightening sense when you consider the possibilities.

    @Agne: Yeah, the crew were great. I might have stayed on the roof for hours if they hadn’t moved me along. Thanks, and we trust the island is good to you!

    @Margaret: I think they offer base flying in three other locations aside from Berlin, but I don’t recall which ones.

  6. says

    Happy belated wedding anniversary guys :)
    Marriage is a beautiful thing and I like the way you compare it with gardens. My mother use to say that same thing to me, it made me smile when I read that :)

  7. says

    I was underneath Park Inn last weekend open-mouthed, looking at those brave people flying off the tallest building in the city! Can’t believe you guys actually did it! Happy belated anniversary and good luck for your next chapter! Sad to hear you’re leaving Berlin already, thanks for all the wonderful posts!

  8. says

    @Romana: Thank you! Your mother sounds like a smart woman. “Great minds…” as they say. Feels good to have our thoughts validated.

    @Raquel: Thank you on all accounts. We too are sad to leave Berlin, but we’ll be back. (We also plan a few more posts from our time there.) Anyhow, we left a lot on the table to do in Berlin, including making sure we meet you next time!

  9. Rob says

    Marriage, jumping off a building (with or without a cable).. Sounds about the same to me. :)

    Seriously, I find people who can manage marriage admirable, but equally incomprehensible. I could never give up that much control of my life to anyone.

  10. says

    @Henry: Maybe you should.

    @Rob: Tomes have been written on marriage, for good reason. Like any sort of relationship, marriages feature their own forms of challenges and of opportunities. As for choosing to be married, to be with someone and unmarried, or to be by oneself — they are all acceptable decisions in my book, especially if they happen to yield satisfaction.

  11. Sutapa Chattopadhyay says

    Loved the video. But it happened so quickly for Dan and Audrey’s descent was from afar. How much time did the actual descent take?

    Congrats, I am not sure I am ready to do that even after 31 years of marriage..

  12. says

    @Sutapa: Thanks! It was fairly quick, probably 8 seconds or so in all. The first 5 seconds or so are the free fall and the remaining seconds are the deceleration. I actually don’t know officially how long it took…I should check the raw video footage. 31 years of marriage…congratulations to you!

    @Margo: 25. Now that’s a nice round number. One of the couples with us had been married for 3 years and they couldn’t believe that we’ve been married for 11. If only they read all these comments. There’s a lot of good marriage mileage out there.

    @JoAnna: It was a lot of fun, from start to finish. And I recommend it to anyone, particularly if they’d like to face up to a fear of heights. Having said that, when people say “not gonna do it,” I certainly get what they’re feeling.

  13. says

    That looks awesome! I love how there isn’t a jerk like bungy jumping. Congratulations on the jump and congratulations on the anniversary. You two are an inspirational couple that everyone can look up to! I can’t wait to see what you do on your 20th anniversary!

  14. says

    @Miranda: Glad you liked the tie-in. If you choose to base fly (on your anniversary or not), have fun!

    @Deb: Thank you! It was pretty awesome, indeed. Oy, 20th anniversary…I think we’re going to take this anniversary thing one year at a time.

    @Erik: I noticed you didn’t say “never.”

    @Pooja: Thank you! We try to be daring…and loving, too.

    @TD: Glad to hear it! Romantic, not so sure about that. A thrilling way to celebrate an anniversary, I can vouch for that.

  15. Jennifer Sullivan says

    Holy cow! How did I miss this posting with the video! My heart is racing! Happy Anniversary (belated), guys! You’re a role model for all ‘kids’ our age! Many hugs to you both!

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