For many wingsuit BASE jumpers, "be a hero or die trying" is the motto. Even compared to skydiving—not exactly the safest of hobbies—BASE jumping has a five- to eight-fold increased risk of injury or death, according to a 2007 study.
Tragically, BASE jumper and wingsuit pilot Armin Schmieder is yet another daredevil proving that "be a hero or die trying" is more than a motto: it's a reality. The 28-year-old Italian live-streamed his death on Facebook, telling his fans "Today you fly with me" just moments before jumping to his death in the Swiss Alps.
After talking to his viewers, Schmieder puts his phone into his pocket. Around six minutes into the video, you can hear the wind whipping around, before a scream rings out, followed by the thud of an impact (around 6:24 in the video). Then the video gets eerily silent, with only a few cowbells interrupting the quiet.
Officers confirmed the death of Schmieder, but it's not clear what caused the crash at this point.
BASE jumping is an acronym for Building, Antenna, Span, and Earth (cliffs), the four places one can launch from with a parachute or wingsuit.
Schmieder's death in Kandersteg, Switzerland is just one of too many tragic deaths for the BASE community. BASE pioneer Alexander Polli, 31, recently died in France after crashing into a tree. Days before Polli's death, Italian wingsuiter Uli Emanuele, 29, also passed away in a crash in the Dolomites in the Italian Alps.
These daredevils understand the risks; Emanuele told Vice in 2015: "I think all people who do extreme sports they have to know that you can die every day. If you accept that and it makes sense to you, then it's worth it. If you have just one doubt, then stop."
Emanuele found international fame after completing one of "the most technical and difficult BASE jump ever," when he zoomed through a six-and-a-half-foot opening in a rock formation:
While obviously these BASE jumpers know their hobby is dangerous, hopefully Schmieder's death is a reminder that they should probably find a new pastime.