BASE Jumper: Mark Soctt
BASE No: BASE#165 / Australian BASE#13 / South African BASE#1
Location: Canary Wharf Tower, London, UK
Photographer: Doug Blane
Date: 6th November 1990
The three man team met in London’s Docklands. Mark Scott the BASE Jumper, a motor bike courier and myself the photographer. Mark, who was in his forties, is an Australian who is working & BASE Jumping his way around the world. He plans to BASE Jump all four objects [i.e. Building, Antenna, Span and Earth] in as many countries as he can and therefore obtain as the most BASE numbers in the world. His World BASE number is 165, Australian BASE#13 and South African BASE#1, to list but a few. Out of all the BASE Jumpers that I have met Mark is the most cautious, after all there aren’t many “veteran” BASE Jumpers! If the conditions are slightly dodgy he will wait another day until they are better. He is also a highly experienced parachutist and paraglider and can read air currents and thermals with a remarkable degree of accuracy.
I set up my 3 Nikon cameras on a station platform of the Light Docklands Railway. One was hand held and the other two were set up on tripods primed from automatic continuous exposure. All three cameras were motor driven.
Mark was dressed in a cycle courier jacket. His BASE rig was packed into a cardboard box and with “genuine” courier documentation, he made his way easily through the security gate. He walked into the access lift and made his way up to the top floor of the eight hundred and twenty four foot tall Canary Wharf Tower. Finding a toilet block, he disappeared from view to unpack his concealed consignment. After checking the BASE rig, he strapped it to his back. He made his way from the toilet block and stepped over the barrier on the corner of Britain’s tallest building.
Mark waved his right hand signalling me that he was ready to jump. I focused my hand held camera and set the other two cameras in motion. Mark told me that two workmen on the same floor looked at him with confusion. Mark acknowledged their presents by shouting “hay guy’s take a look at this”. He watched their expressions turn to amazement as they realised what he was about to do. He let out a yell of excitement as he jumped from the building.
Mark dropped like a small earth bound stone gaining speed as he descended. He wanted to “smoke” the building, this is deploying the canopy at the very last moment in order to maximise the groundrush effect and adrenaline rush surging around his body. I had pointed out before the jump that in order to get the best photographs I needed him under canopy for as long as possible. As he dropped I counted to myself,
When he had reached the half way point his right hand released the pilot canopy. The bridal pulled the main canopy from it’s bag and the parachute deployed safely. Now flying under canopy he circled to lose altitude. He descended over me and the Light Docklands Railway heading towards the railway car park. Pulling the breaks, he stalled the canopy and landed feather like in the car park. He pulled the canopy cut-away cord and quickly stuffed it into a rucksack. Jumping onto the back of the motor bike he disappeared from view.
Mark Scott had set a new record by being the first person to BASE jump Britain’s tallest building three days before the topping out ceremony.
I waited until the next train arrived at the LDR platform, grabbed all my camera gear and boarded. The ticket inspector looked at me as if I was crazy. I started to dismantle all the gear. My photograph was published in the Today Newspaper the following day. A few days after the jump I was told that the security arrangements for Canary Wharf were reviewed due to the jump.
Publications: Today Newspaper / xnet Magazine / Sported Magazine / Xtreme Sports Photography Book