Watch These Insane BASE Jumpers Free Fall From the Tallest Building on Earth

Dubai Base Jump from Burj Kalifa
Image: Red Bull/Noah Bahnson
Vince Reffet and Frédéric Fugen’s BASE jump from the Burj Khalifa established a new Guinness World Record.

The two men are perched 2,716 feet above the ground on a custom-built platform precariously attached to the tip of the Burj Khalifa – the tallest building on the planet. Daredevil BASE jumpers Vince Reffet and Fred Fugen are therefore under no illusions as to the considerable danger inherent in what they are about to attempt.

vince reffet and fred fugen poised to jump off the burj khalifa
Image: Red Bull/Noah Bahnson
Don’t try this at home: Reffet and Fugen are pros

The Frenchmen ascended the Dubai landmark in April 2014 with one objective in their minds: to establish a new Guinness World Record for the “Highest BASE Jump from a Building.” After all, nobody else has ever officially succeeded in a feat quite as extreme as the one this pair had planned.

Vince Reffet and Fred Fugen fall past Dubai’s Burj Khalifa
Image: Red Bull/Noah Bahnson
The French duo set the record for the “Highest BASE Jump from a Building.”

In fact, BASE jumping off the Burj Khalifa was something that Reffet had imagined doing for years. “When I came [for] the first time [to] Dubai three years ago and, like, saw the tower I’m like, ‘Wow, this is the dream…’ It’s the highest building in the world,” he has explained.

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Image: YouTube/Skydive Dubai
As they descended, the duo were trailed by colorful plumes of reddish smoke.

So after three years’ worth of preparation – including weeks of intensive practice at Skydive Dubai – it all boiled down to what Fugen labeled “the leap of a lifetime.” And for the two of them, a leap with little more than parachutes and each other for company.

Reffet and Fugen perched on top of the Burj Khalifa
Image: YouTube/Skydive Dubai
Undertaken on April 21, 2014, the incredible BASE jump was three years in the making.

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Before the record attempt, a 9.8- x 3.3-foot metal platform was specially fixed to the apex of the Burj Khalifa. The installation proved to be a challenge in itself, taking three whole days to build and slot into place. This was achieved, though, and it was from the platform that the ice-cool Frenchmen could peer down at the tiny cars and ant-like people below – a potentially terrifying sight, but one that the pair couldn’t allow to put them off their stride. After all, their very lives depended on them maintaining focus and getting the jump exactly right.

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Image: YouTube/Skydive Dubai
The Frenchmen skydive and BASE jump in locations across the globe as part of the Soul Flyers group.

So after a quick “Ready, set,” they were off, leaping decisively forward from the platform and into the sky over Dubai. They plummeted toward the ground some 2,717 feet below them at an unbelievable speed, with trails of reddish smoke spewing from canisters attached to their ankles. All in all, quite the spectacle.

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Image: YouTube/Skydive Dubai
The talented jumpers were able to encircle the colossal structure one and a quarter times.

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Looking somewhat like fluorescent birds, Fugen and Reffet plunged through the sky at an astonishing rate. They also exhibited their remarkable skills along the way, performing daring maneuvers involving mid-air upside-down handshakes and spinning while linked together.

Reffet and Fugen jump off the Burj Khalifa
Image: YouTube/Skydive Dubai
Reffet and Fugen had to make sure they put enough space between themselves and the building when they jumped from the launch pad.

On top of achieving that Guinness World Record, the duo had another goal firmly in mind: to make one and a quarter revolutions around the building. Drawing on their talent and years of experience – and aided by favorable conditions – Reffet and Fugen were fortunately able to do this safely.

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Reffet and Fugen fall through the Dubai sky
Image: YouTube/Skydive Dubai
The Soul Flyers treated those watching to a series of spectacular freeflying maneuvers.

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And after free falling at an epic rate, adrenaline and excitement undoubtedly coursing through their veins, it quickly became time for Fugen and Reffet to pull their chords and release their parachutes. “Woo-hoo!” one of them screamed in recognition of their incredible feat – which ended with the duo touching down safely on the grass below.

daredevil BASE jumpers whizz past the Burj Khalifa
Image: YouTube/Skydive Dubai
Consent was given for the jump by the crown prince of Dubai.

Such excitement was more than justified, too. After all, the dream that Reffet had held onto for three years – and for which the duo had trained so extensively – had been achieved in style. “This was by far the most exciting jump of my life, a dream come true,” beamed Reffet. “This jump… it’s, like, the achievement of all those years of training and competing and friendship,” he added.

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Image: YouTube/Skydive Dubai
Altogether, the Frenchmen jumped six times, either freeflying or wearing wingsuits.

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Yet in order to jump successfully from the Burj Khalifa, Reffet and Fugen had to take many factors into account. One particularly salient danger was how the building’s circumference expands outward the closer it gets to the ground. Hence, the duo had to ensure that they jumped far enough out from the launch pad to avoid this major potential hazard.

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Image: YouTube/Skydive Dubai
Ruffet and Fugen’s training included spells in Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland.

In the end, the pair didn’t settle for just one jump, though. In fact, Reffet and Fugen took the plunge from atop the Burj Khalifa a total of six times, varying between freeflying and swooping through the air in wingsuits. However, while wearing the wingsuits and rounding the Burj, the speed of descent was escalated significantly – and likewise the danger factor was upped.

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Wide open skies and handshakes in Dubai
Image: YouTube/Skydive Dubai
Fugen has called the feat “the jump of a lifetime.”

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Thankfully, then, the awesome twosome are consummate professionals who knew exactly what they were doing. The close-knit Frenchmen are hugely experienced performers and world champions in parachuting and freeflying. They have worked together for more than ten years, performing around the world and consistently raising the bar with their endeavors.

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Image: YouTube/Skydive Dubai
To ensure that they were ready and suitably acclimatized for their record attempt, the duo also prepared by plummeting from helicopters in Dubai.

Indeed, it would perhaps not be totally inaccurate to suggest that such daredevil feats are in the pair’s blood, given that both men’s families have practiced parachuting extensively. Incredibly, Fugen made his first jump out into the sky when he was just ten years old. Reffet, meanwhile, was only 14 when he performed his own debut leap.

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Image: YouTube/Skydive Dubai
The duo have won multiple individual world championships in freeflying and parachuting.

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This being said, the younger Reffet arguably outdid his friend when it came to completing his first solo jump, taking the leap at the age of just 15 in 2000. Fugen, on the other hand, achieved the same feat in 1996 when he was 17. Reffet has furthermore accomplished in excess of 13,000 jumps during his career to date, while Fugen has totted up over 15,000. It’s perhaps not surprising, then, that the Burj Khalifa attempt didn’t instill too much fear in either of them.

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Image: YouTube/Skydive Dubai
Ruffet and Fugen were seemingly born to do this, since they both come from parachuting families.

In fact, Reffet and Fugen – who were both born in Annecy, France – are quick to point out that the aim is not to deliberately put themselves in frightening situations. “We don’t like to scare ourselves, you know,” explained Fugen. “People think that you BASE jump because you’re crazy [and] you like to get scared.”

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Image: YouTube/Skydive Dubai
The jump was attempted from a small platform at the top of the building.

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So if the Frenchmen are not out to scare the hell out of themselves when they jump, why do they do it? To have a great time. To experience something truly liberating and amazing. To swoop through the sky uninhibited, like birds. “We like to fly, we like to have fun,” explained Fugen. “If you are scared, if we scare ourselves, there is no fun.”

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Image: YouTube/Skydive Dubai
Though Reffet is the more junior of the pair, he was also the younger of them to first perform a solo parachute jump.

As previously mentioned, Reffet and Fugen’s Burj Khalifa jump took several years of preparation and planning, along with intense and specific groundwork. Their training program included leaping from a Swiss mountain near Lauterbrunnen in order to get accustomed to both the height and altitude of the Dubai building, as well as several practice jumps from helicopters in the Emirates city.

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Reffet and Fugen look tiny as they fall past the Burj Khalifa
Image: YouTube/Skydive Dubai
Fugen made his inaugural solo jump in 1996, while his partner first took the plunge unaccompanied in 2000.

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There was also one more crucial issue that needed to be sorted before Reffet and Fugen could achieve their dream: acquiring the permission to leap from the Burj Khalifa in the first place. The successful BASE jump was only made possible with the support of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the crown prince of Dubai, who gave his blessing for the Frenchmen to jump from atop the soaring building and into the history books.

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Image: YouTube/Skydive Dubai
It remains to be seen whether Reffet and Fugen will ever top their record-breaking jump.

And after the pair comfortably went one better than the previous world BASE-jumping record of 2,205 feet, it will be interesting to see what inspiring feats they have planned next. One thing is for sure, though: these Gallic heroes with flying in their blood aren’t about to hang up their wingsuits just yet.

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