x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Daredevils jumped off Burj Dubai undetected

Footage posted recently on internet shows that a man arrested in May had made a successful jump a few days earlier.

A video from YouTube shows a Frenchman, Herve Le Gallou, smiling minutes after jumping from the Burj Dubai.
A video from YouTube shows a Frenchman, Herve Le Gallou, smiling minutes after jumping from the Burj Dubai.

DUBAI // Newly released video of two parachutists leaping from the Burj Dubai has documented a previously unreported breach of security at the world's tallest building. Until now it was believed only one illegal attempt at the sport, known as base-jumping, had taken place at the site. That was in May, and resulted in the arrest and prosecution of two people - only one of whom, a British man, actually made the jump. The incident prompted the developer Emaar Properties to tighten security.

However, video posted on the internet this week shows that one of the arrested men, Herve Le Gallou, from France, had jumped with a different British man a few days earlier, and neither was apprehended by security officers. The pair had apparently fooled guards by posing as engineers. The clip shows Mr Le Gallou and the long-haired English man leaping off a balcony before opening their parachutes. They then land and evade security guards, who are heard shouting in the background.

The pair used head-mounted cameras to prove that they had completed the 650m jump. The video's existence was unknown until it was posted on the internet this week. "To know that you are the first person to step off that object is for me a special feeling," the Englishman says on the video. Base-jumping involves the use of a parachute to jump from four types of fixed object - buildings, antennae, spans and earth (BASE).

The base-jumpers walked into the tower early in the morning before scaling the 160 flights of stairs to the top, which took them an hour and a quarter. On the video they talk about their exploits, describing how they found a quiet balcony to sit on and wait for sunrise before making the jump. "We dressed up as European engineers who had come to work on the site and quite quickly the builders just assumed we were working there," Mr Le Gallou says.

"When the sun came up and you are there alone you feel like everything belongs to you. It is a little moment of eternity. I had done what I intended to do and there was no one to tell me if it was good or bad. It is a moment of total freedom." In the video, the men say "three-two-one-base" and then soar off the Burj. "During the fall it is like being in a dream. When you open the parachute you wake up," Mr Le Gallou says.

Mr Le Gallou's partner says: "I could see where Herve had landed and I knew it was inside the compound in view of all the workers and security who had just seen me jump, so for me the priority was to get the canopy under control and just run for the perimeter and get outside as quickly as I could." "Just as I exited the compound I heard a security guard shouting. I knew there was a pursuit on and the game was afoot."

Their jump beat the previous base-jumping record, which was held by Austrian Felix Baumgartner, who jumped from the Taipei 101 tower, the world's tallest completed building at a height of 509 metres, in December 2007. The pair say they chose to jump in the spring as the hot summer winds would have made the conditions too dangerous. Construction workers were also already fixing glass to the outside of the Burj, which would have left them unable to get onto a balcony to make the jump.

Mr Le Gallou and another British man tried to jump from Burj Dubai again several days later. The British man completed the jump while Mr Gallou was caught before he could jump. Both were arrested. After being arrested on his second attempt, Mr Le Gallou was fined and allowed to return to France three months later. tspender@thenational.ae