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Sports Factor -

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Mick O'Regan: Hello and welcome to The Sports Factor here on ABC Radio National, I'm Mick O'Regan.

This week we're continuing our acknowledgement of programs past - and the people who made them.

Today's Sports Factor features a very familiar voice for regular Radio National listeners - in fact
it can be heard every weekday morning just after 7.30.

Warwick Hadfield brings us a daily summary of sporting news as part of the Breakfast program.

Before doing that, he was doing this ... namely presenting The Sports Factor.

As with last Friday's show from Amanda Smith, this week we'll hear a wonderful program Warwick made
back in November 2003, when he decided to put his body on the line, or more accurately through the
air ...

Music

Roland Simpson: I think parachuting is a very mental sport and jumping out of the plane, it goes
against all your natural instincts. You've pushed yourself through that and I mean its exhilaration
and enormous relief when the parachute opens. I guess when you're freefalling, the noise in your
ears from the wind rushing past, it's quite overwhelming. All of your senses are just being
pummelled with sensations: whether it be visually, or from the air or noise, and then when the
parachute opens everything's calm, quiet, tranquil, it's just this overwhelming relief when the
parachute opens and I just found that a fantastic feeling. I just wanted to experience it more and
more.

Music

Warwick Hadfield: Not far from where I live - on the way to my favourite beach in fact - there's
something that recently I've learnt to call a drop zone. It's where people go skydiving, this
unnatural act of jumping out of a perfectly good aeroplane.

Lying on the beach and watching them fluttering around overhead, I've often wondered who they are,
these skydivers and whether I could ever be one of them.

Certainly when you get up close, they don't look a lot different to the rest of us. But, after
spending a couple of weeks with them I've discovered they inhabit a very tight community with its
own morays and masonry - much of it built around the number of jumps they've done. Just even
hinting you're thinking about doing a jump gives you far more cache than if you've never jumped at
all.

And, whatever they may look like on the outside, inside, something they're 'wiring' - for want of a
better term - is certainly different.

In his new book calling 'Falling: how our greatest fear became our greatest thrill', American
author Garrett Soden has investigated how defying gravity has over the past 200 years, led us to
recognise a new form of homosapien - the sensation-seeker.

Garrett Soden: When you look at the history and you look back 200 years and you think 'well why was
it that 200 years ago that people should become interested in gravity'?

In some cases you could say there was a technical innovation. For example parachuting was invented
in 1797, was the first person to jump with a parachute and he jumped from a balloon, now people
could have jumped off cliffs or high towers before that, so why was it?

In looking at Western Europe where this developed - France in particular - you saw the rise of
romanticism, the idea that individualism was important, that heroes could arise from the masses.
The history of Western civilisation through the Western cultures of the United States, Australia
and any westernised country, has tended to move in that direction, sort of the idea of the lone
hero.

There was a study done, can't think of the people that did it, doesn't come to mind immediately but
it's in my book, they did an extensive study of parachutists and they came to the conclusion that
skydivers are enacting a drama with themselves as the hero, so the idea of casting yourself as an
adventurer in that role is what appeals to people.

Warwick Hadfield: Well it seems that the evidence is stacking up that we aren't really as a race
people who want to be fat, living in suburbia and happy. There are some of us for whom that is just
positively boring, we have to have more than that, we have to go out and seek sensation. I think
recent evidence has also discovered something called a 'thrill gene'.

Garrett Soden: Right. Actually this is all part of something that's called the 'sensation-seeking
personality'. Now, there are measurements for sensation-seeking, either you're either a high
sensation-seeker, medium or low.

The tests that were developed actually test four things: thrill and adventure seeking, experience
seeking, dis-inhibition, and boredom susceptibility. Although they tend to go together. So you'll
have for example, people that play around with gravity tended to score highest on all of these
scales. In one survey you had expedition climbers, parachutists, elite climbers and white water
canoeists as the highest.

The gene that you mentioned, it's a stretch on chromosome 11 - this is the technical aspect of it -
it's called D4DR and everybody has between two and 11 copies, and the more copies that you have,
the more likely you are to be a sensation-seeker. What it does is, actually this particular gene
builds what's called a D4 receptor. That receptor is sensitive to dopamine. Now dopamine is a
chemic signal, it's a neuro transmitter that's released by some neurons in the brain and it's
absorbed by others. It signals action and elation. It's associated with the good feelings that we
have that come with sex and with food. Also, by the way, it's released artificially if you take
cocaine or amphetamines, so you'll find that high sensation-seekers tend to be more likely to be
drug-takers.

Warwick Hadfield: Garrett Soden refers there to the role of dopamine, a chemical messenger similar
to adrenaline.

When you take a risk adrenaline itself is also released, pumping through your body and allowing it
to keep going. This adrenaline rush can last up to a week for first-time jumpers. But how is it for
someone who jumps out of planes for sport? Sky-diver Roland Simpson.

Roland Simpson: I've heard a lot of theories about it and I think, I mean really all I can talk
about is my physical experiences and what really goes on in my body and certainly, I have a very
raised level of awareness, sensation, and that is I guess attributed to the excitement and the
challenge of what you've just done, and that's I guess what people find addictive about it too.

To take on a challenge is something that makes you very nervous, very scared, intimidating to stare
it in the eye and then to go for it, push through it and come through it out the other side, I mean
these are the experiences that we tend to remember, they're the things that stay with us and the
things that I guess we feel make us stronger when we come across obstacles in the future.

Warwick Hadfield: Armed by now with an ever-increasing amount of information about skydiving, I
went to the Nagambie drop zone, just north of Melbourne and with a stomach full of butterflies at
the prospect of doing my first jump.

Sadly, the weather turned foul. You can't skydive in rain because the raindrops hit you like
bullets. But, I did get the chance to talk with Matt Hawkins, a skydiving instructor with more than
1,000 jumps to his credit. You'd think he'd get enough adrenaline moments in his day job as a
driving instructor but, apparently not.

For him too, the chemical part of skydiving also made sense.

Matt Hawkins: I often find that if I have a hard week at work and I miss out on a weekend of
jumping, by the end of the following week, I am really really having strong desires to jump.

Warwick Hadfield: Would you call it craving?

Matt Hawkins: Yes, definitely. It certainly is a craving and when you do jump, you certainly feel a
whole lot better.

Warwick Hadfield: Just explain to me the feeling when you jump, when you say you feel a whole lot
better. What is it, is it euphoric?

Matt Hawkins: It sort of overtakes your whole body. It's like a release from reality almost. You're
doing something that is completely unnatural and your body just deals with that in strange ways. I
think that being above the earth and looking down on it, it looks like such a peaceful place. And
then, all of a sudden you're heading towards it at 200km an hour and it's completely exhilarating.

Warwick Hadfield: Exhilarating enough for some people to spend up to $400 each weekend on their
sport.

According to Garrett Soden, the people who are attracted to extreme sports have distinct
personality types, even down to the type of food they eat.

Garrett Soden: After they develop these tests to sort of see what sort of sensation to measure the
sensation-seeking traits, they discover that these traits correlated with a lot of other
personality traits. For example, high sensation-seekers are more permissive in attitudes having to
do with politics or religion or sex, they're more anti-authoritarian, they like abstract art, they
like complex music, they tend to like dirty jokes, they tend to smoke and drink more.
Interestingly, they even like hot and sour and crunchy foods more than people that are low
sensation-seekers.

Warwick Hadfield: And are these measurements different for men and for women?

Garrett Soden: Yeah. In general, high sensation-seeking is associated with testosterone, so men on
average, rate quite a bit higher in sensation-seeking than women do.

Warwick Hadfield: While skydiving is more popular among males, there are still plenty of women
involved in the sport. One interesting stat shows that more women than men tandem jump.

According to rumours so euphoric do they become on the way down they've even been known to turn
around - and yes - lay one on the lips of the tandem master.

Despite learning all this, I still eagerly set off to make my second attempt at skydiving, this
time going to the drop zone closer to home.

There I met Sharon Steel, who runs the reception centre and routinely introduces first-timers to
skydiving. She told me that after her first jump, there was no going back to netball.

Sharon Steele: Definitely netball's boring. This is great. I could never go back to normal, regular
sports. It has to be extreme. (laughs)

Warwick Hadfield: Why was netball not enough for you? Is there something inside your head that says
'I've really got to push the limits?

Sharon Steele: Definitely. Because I didn't know I was living until I started pushing the limits.

Warwick Hadfield: So what other extreme sports if you like to call them that -

Sharon Steele: I like snow-skiing, I'd love to try snowboarding, I've been abseiling, rock
climbing....

Warwick Hadfield: So do you find there's a special - I won't call it a brotherhood - a brotherhood
and sisterhood if you like, Do you understand those people a little bit better than you understand
a normal person?

Sharon Steele: Oh no, I love people that, what you would call as normal, but also I love to know
that people can push themselves to the limit, because you know you can and you have to find out
what your limit is. And in doing that, I suppose I had to try out skydiving and that's my limit.

Warwick Hadfield: But what are the limits within skydiving? Is formation diving the next thing?

Sharon Steele: Well I already do do formation diving so I suppose the next thing you could go to is
BASE jumping, which is jumping off cliffs and bridges because with that, basically that's the most
extreme you can go. You have not got a second chance.

Warwick Hadfield: And when do you think you might have a crack at that?

Sharon Steele: You know what? There are certain jumps I'll do, but probably not something I would
take up as a regular sport. I think I'm extreme enough just doing what I do. (laughs)

Warwick Hadfield: The first time you jumped out, did you feel any fear or was there, 'oh, I've got
to let go of this piece of metal now'?

Sharon Steele: I was really really scared but, the thing is, you can't have adrenaline without
fear, and once you start losing a certain amount of fear and awareness, then I personally believe
you should stop skydiving.

Warwick Hadfield: Did you tandem jump first or did you just go straight into it?

Sharon Steele: No, I tandem jumped first, but even from being a little girl, I knew I wanted to do
something like this, so I did the tandem skydive and a week later I did my first course. I just
knew, and I haven't been off a drop zone hardly at all since. Isn't that crazy?

Warwick Hadfield: Thanks to Sigmund Freud, for a long while, the theory was that parachutists and
their ilk had a death wish. But you only need to be around a drop zone for a short time to be
overwhelmed by the commitment to safety.

And according to Garrett Soden, rather than wanting to die, skydivers are in fact journeying deep
into our primeval past.

Garrett Soden: There have been various theories offered. Marvin Zuckerman who did the initial
research and most of the research in sensation-seeking, feels that in our evolution there was a
benefit toward a certain amount of adventure-seeking, thrill-seeking, because you had to have a
hunter who wanted to go out and do some sort of risky behaviour in order to feed the tribe.

My own theory is that this goes back even farther because in my book I talk about the idea that the
evolution of human beings, if you take it all the way back to the beginning of primate, you can see
that primates have been in the trees for 65 million years, they've been on the ground for only
about six million years. So, just about everything about our body, our brain, our eyes, the way our
arms work, the way our wrists twist, the way our shoulders are loose all comes from that evolution
in the tree.

My theory is that this is also when we develop a particular thrill and attraction toward gravity
and toward risking falls, controlled falling.

Warwick Hadfield: This is The Sports Factor on Radio National and I'm Warwick Hadfield.

Now whilst skydivers don't have a death wish, the risk of death is recognised as a constant
companion. It's why parachutes are re-packed carefully after each jump and why each jumper carries
a reserve in case the main canopy fails to open.

Tandem jumpers also have an additional safety device - a smaller, drogue chute released by the
tandem master immediately on leaving the plane. This device slows down the rate of fall, something
that ensures when the time comes to pull a ripcord the main canopy is deployed more safely.

However, despite all these precautions, accidents do happen. Don Cross runs the drop zone at
Nagambie in Victoria. He's one of Australia's most experienced skydivers with more than 8,000 jumps
to his name. He's also set Australian records at formation diving - one of the places where jumping
out of an aeroplane becomes literally, a highly competitive sport.

He's also a former soldier and a natural leader - a skill he needed last January when two skydivers
were killed at Nagambie. I asked him what the reaction was to that moment.

Don Cross: Shock. Nobody could believe that it actually happened. What actually did occur was two
people had actually opened quite closely, and as their parachutes opened they collided, so they
actually hit very hard. It was believed that they died on impact in the air, their canopies became
entangled and they landed like so. It was complete shock and amazement to hear, it was actually the
start of what we call a boogie, which is a lot of people, there was about a hundred odd people here
on that particular day.

Of course you race out there and you're always thinking the worst. A very very very sad start to
that boogie. There's all the aftermath also. We all stuck together. We helped the family of the
people that died, the skydivers stick together, we support their families, because their spouses,
their wives and husbands, they're all friends of ours too. So, we all work together to get
ourselves through that.

Then we analyse why it actually happened. We work out exactly what happened, and then we pass the
information back out to the rest of the skydiving fraternity so it can't happen again at another
place.

So I explained exactly what had happened, I opened the bar and we toasted our fallen friends.

Warwick Hadfield: That was the professional side of you, but these people were also people that you
probably jumped with many many times and who would be close friends.

Don Cross: Yeah that's right. You never forget. Every time you hop in a plane and you think about
'oh, oh gee, I remember doing this, a similar jump like this with my friend who passed away'. It's
always there. You never forget them. It's a bit like losing a member of your family, you never
forget them either.

Warwick Hadfield: Don Cross. Well, by now I had a good feel for the sport, it's people and what it
might offer.

But I still hadn't managed to jump myself. The rain had foiled me at Nagambie, then it was the wind
on my first visit to Barwon Heads. So I could only hope that the third time was going to be lucky.

Music

Sharon Steel:...warning parachute skydiving is dangerous. Like all other action sports there is an
element of luck and you can be seriously injured or killed through no fault of your own. On the
pink card fill out both sides front and back....

Adam Long: My name's Adam Long. Been jumping for about oh 12 years. Got about 4,000 jumps to my
name.

Warwick Hadfield: Good. That's the sort of safety record a bloke likes to know.

Adam Long: I'm still in one piece.

Warwick Hadfield: Well on your website it says that you've even got computer enhanced safety. Just
what's that?

Adam Long: We carry CYPRES on our tandem parachute equipment, which is a cybernetic parachute
activation device, which is another way of opening our reserve container, just in case I'm rendered
unconscious or other circumstances may arise. That'll open at 2,000 ft above the ground if we're in
excess of 75 ft a second.

Warwick Hadfield: Okay. I'm in your hands.

Adam Long: Well first thing we need is a jumpsuit on Warwick, zip to the front just like a pair of
overalls. After that's done we'll put a harness on you, we'll take you through a short brief of the
skydive, get you to do a couple of things in front of us in free form (? free fall ?) and then
we'll head out to the plane and embark on our adventure.

Warwick Hadfield: Well I better get this suit on. Zip to the front. I've remembered your first
instruction. (laughs)

Zipper sounds

Warwick Hadfield: Right, well lets see if you can get this harness on me. Which way do I need to
put this through?

Adam Long: Put your right foot through this stirrup here - the other right.

Warwick Hadfield: Oh the other right.

Adam Long: No, no no no no, your right foot.

Warwick Hadfield: Oh I see, put it through that like that. Now I'm with you. Sorry.

Adam Long: You don't want to be facing my ugly head all the way down.

Warwick Hadfield: Nah, no. Sorry, no I didn't mean it like that. (laughs nervously)

Adam Long: Put your left foot through the other side..

Warwick Hadfield: So how far, what do we slow down to once the canopy's open?

Adam Long: Well we'll be getting out at 14,000 ft, that'll give us about 60 seconds in free fall.
We're doing about just over 200k's an hour in free fall. When we pull our parachute out, we'll be
slowing down to about 20k an hour. That'll take about eight seconds.

Warwick Hadfield: People like Brockie and Schumacher, do they come and do this sort of thing, I
suppose it's not even as fast as they go in formula one is it?

Adam Long: Well I was in Arizona a couple of years ago and the whole Ferrari crew came over and
Schumacher was there, and they basically had four hours at the drop zone and did as many jumps as
they could within that time. Apparently Ferrari didn't know about it, so (laughs)

Warwick Hadfield: At how many different places am I attached to you Adam?

Adam Long: Four. Two from the hips and two from the shoulders.

Just going to take you through the skydive now Warwick. I'm going to get you to a couple of things
in front of us in free fall. It's going to add to your adventure. If you forget to do anything,
it's okay. That's why I'm right there behind you.

The safest way to tandem skydive is as one, so we're going to be strapped together as I said at
four points, pretty tight and snug. You'll soon find yourself sittin' on a ledge 14,000 ft up, feet
dangling out over the edge - about 4.5k's - just bit shorter than that. Also from behind you cross
your arms for me, head back, big smile on the face and it'll be ready, set skydive.

On the skydive Warwick, we'll leave the aircraft. I want you throw your hips all the way forward,
keep your head back, put your legs back between mine, okay? Just got to remember you've got a
strange guy behind you so one, get away from him and two, kick him in the butt.

Short time into free fall I'll tap you on your shoulders. This is your sign to get your arms out
into free fall okay, just like Superman. Feel what it's like to be doing over 200k's an hour. We're
going to remain in this body position, hips all the way forward, legs back, arms out for the entire
free fall, down to about 5,000 ft. Then we're going to pull the parachute out. As I said, it'll
take about eight seconds to open. Just relax, let it all happen. Everything's going to quieten
right down, everything's going to slow right up.

We can talk just like we are now under the parachute. I'm going to get you to do a couple of things
for me under the parachute. Most important thing, we're going to practice our landing position,
okay?

It's pretty hard for us to run attached together with two brains and four legs, so I'll get you to
leave the landing up to me. I'm gonna ask you to take both your hands, scoop them under your knees
for me, lift your knees up towards your chest and simply straighten your legs out in front, okay?

Warwick Hadfield: You haven't seen my hamstrings! That's as far as they'll go.

Adam Long: (laughs), yep, that's fine. Alright.

Warwick Hadfield: Are we gonna go and do this thing now?

Adam Long: Yep.

Warwick Hadfield: Okay, let's go do it.

Plane sounds

Man: Come on in Warwick. Righto Warwick, here we are mate. How're you feeling?

Warwick Hadfield: I'm feeling unbelievably relaxed.

Man: Yeah?

Warwick Hadfield: There must be a moment coming soon.

Man: Well enjoy and we'll see you en route.

Warwick Hadfield: Thank you very much. Adam - I'm in your hands.

Music (it's a beautiful day...)

Plane sounds

Adam Long: (shouting) Alright Warwick, we're just over half way. How are the nerves?

Warwick Hadfield: (shouting) Still the same as when we took off. There's got to be a moment
somewhere Adam, but it hasn't come yet (laughs).

Adam Long: (shouting) Ready to go out this doorway down here?

Warwick Hadfield: (shouting) Yeah, looking forward to it. They tell me the first step's the one to
watch.

Adam Long: (shouting) Just remember 'no' sounds a lot like 'yo'

Music and plane sounds

Adam Long: (shouting) Okay, onto our knees, stretch out in front, that's the way, stretch out over
the edge, cross your arms for me, head back....

Wind sounds

Warwick Hadfield: (assuming) WOOOHOOO......

Adam Long: (shouting) Alright....

Warwick Hadfield: (shouting) Alright... hooley dooley

Adam Long: (shouting) What did you think of that Warwick?

Warwick Hadfield: (shouting) That was sensational, oh....

Adam Long: (shouting) How does that view look?

Warwick Hadfield: (shouting) Oh alright, where's my beach?

Adam Long: Lets see if we can turn it...

Landing sounds

Adam Long: You can sit down there...

Warwick Hadfield: huh-ho... (shouting) YEEEHAAAAH

Adam Long: And we're down...

You're all clear to go Warwick. Put it there Warwick.

Warwick Hadfield: Oh mate, that was great....

Sensational. Yep, I'd become a fully-fledged sensation-seeker. And would I do it again? You betcha!

This is a very excited Sports Factor on Radio National and I'm Warwick Hadfield and this week,
we're looking at thrill-seeking in sport.

Now one thing I won't be rushing out to do is BASE-jumping. This is skydiving on steroids. BASE is
an acronym for Building, Antenna, Span (bridges) and Earth. BASE jumpers climb to the tops of tall
buildings, mighty cliffs, and high bridges - all experiences in themselves - and then jump.

Roland Simpson, also known as Slim, has graduated from skydiving to become one of Australia's
best-known BASE jumpers. Among many other mighty leaps, he's jumped from the Petronas Towers in
Kuala Lumpur, until recently, the tallest buildings in the world.

I asked him if this sort of thrill-seeking was addictive.

Roland Simpson (a.k.a Slim): No. Addictive's not the right word. I think you're addicted to the
challenge of it, as people are with anything. I'm not addicted to the danger. The danger scares me.
I've done more than 1,000 BASE jumps and 2,000 skydives now and every time I walk up to the edge of
whatever the object is, I'm nervous. That's a very natural, a very normal and a good thing to be.
Because, you know, people say when you tell them that you're a BASE jumper they say 'you must be
crazy, you're insane to do that sort of thing', really people who would be crazy or insane quite
literally wouldn't last long in the sport. You have to understand the risks and appreciate the
danger that you are going to be in by doing it. That actually takes a lot of thought and a lot of
planning, a lot of preparation to ensure you're going to survive.

Warwick Hadfield: Well run me through a BASE jump, the preparation...

Roland Simpson (a.k.a Slim): Sure. One of the biggest parts of it is deciding a good place to go
and actually to jump. You'll find most Australian jumpers actually travel overseas because the
objects overseas are typically a lot better. What I mean by better is they're a lot safer, and more
exciting.

The ideal for a BASE jumper is a really high object - and what I mean by high - 1,000 ft or more.
Even better if that object is a cliff that was very overhung. Because, the danger in BASE jumping
is not the parachute not opening, but when the parachute opens, it can still open facing back
towards the object and that's the danger.

So what you do, is you try and choose objects that you can get a long way from once you know,
you've exited. So, by having more height, you can actually fly your body away from the object, and
you're also well well clear of what you've just jumped from, so you'll remove a lot of that danger.

In that first second or two when you actually, when you're actually, when your body's hanging in
the air and you're starting to drop and you look down and this enormous rock wall starts to race
past and you're accelerating down right next to it, that visual impression that's this kaleidoscope
of rock racing past you, is very difficult to explain. It's an incredible feeling - really amazing.

There's something really special, I think, in jumping from an object and actually getting to
terminal velocity. You see, it takes ten seconds to reach terminal, which is about 1,000 ft to get
that speed, and once you've reached that speed, that's an incredible sensation to be literally
falling as fast as you can...

Group: ...Three, two, one, go...

Music and wind sounds

Jumper: Yeehah!

Roland Simpson (a.k.a Slim): It's really not a sport for everyone. It's only for a few people that
really are adventure-seekers and acknowledge that it is a high-risk sport. It definitely is. It is
quite distinctly different from skydiving. Jumping out of aeroplanes has many more inbuilt safety
features to it than what you have in BASE.

There's still a risk. There definitely is. But you do everything you can to reduce that risk as
much as possible.

Warwick Hadfield: So what are the legal issues with BASE jumpers?

Roland Simpson (a.k.a Slim): I think the issue as far as BASE jumpers, people look at it and say,
'oh, that's illegal'. There's actually nothing illegal about BASE jumping itself. It's trespassing
that's illegal, and if some jumpers choose to go onto objects that they are trespassing on, then
yes, they are breaking the law.

Warwick Hadfield: What's the reaction when people see BASE jumpers in action?

Roland Simpson (a.k.a Slim): On several objects which are jumped by jumpers that do catch the
public's eye, and they think they're witnessing suicide and often will call the police. We actually
call the police and let them know we've just jumped and not to waste their time, because we really
don't want all this attention and we don't want to be a pain in the neck to them.

It inherently works against us if we do that.

Warwick Hadfield: What about your friends and your family? Do they care for you, do they say, 'hey,
when are you going to toss it in, one more jump and that's it'?

Roland Simpson (a.k.a Slim): Yeah. That's a good point. I think BASE jumping is really quite a
selfish sport. It's very hard on family, I think it's hard on people who don't necessarily
understand what it is that you're doing and it would seem ridiculous why you would take such risks
just to have some fun.

It's something that I, for myself I've tried to shelter my family from it by not really telling
them a great deal of what I'm doing and it's more because I don't want them worrying or stressing
or panicking about what I'm going to be doing this weekend or next weekend or whatever.

Warwick Hadfield: So you're probably more comfortable then in the company of fellow BASE jumpers.

Roland Simpson (a.k.a Slim): Absolutely. I really do have two lives completely. I have a nickname,
Slim, and I think when someone calls me Slim they're a BASE jumper. If they call me Roland then
they're either from work or my family and between that use of name almost it means a bit of a
switch in who I'm likely talking to and what I'm going to be talking about.

Warwick Hadfield: So what's the next big one for you? What's going to be that challenge?

Roland Simpson (a.k.a Slim): I'm kind of looking for jumps that are in exciting, different
locations that'll take me to places in the world I haven't been to before.

There is a jump which, when I describe it won't seem very safe but um, I'll go through it. It's
actually, there's a cave in Mexico that's 1,300 ft deep and it's basically like 100 ft diameter
open mouth at the top and basically you can jump into this thing, it's like a huge shaft, and as
you fall into the hole, it gets bigger and bigger, you know, it's actually like a big bell-shaped
cave and the deeper you get in this thing, there's so much room in it.

I'm not the first person to do this, a lot of people have jumped into it. You open your parachute,
fly around and land at the bottom of the cave. But you actually don't have much danger of hitting
anything as long as you fall for three or four seconds, because you come into this massive cavern
and then there you are. Unless you don't do anything for about 10 seconds or so - which is quite a
long time after a parachute's open - you'll be fine.

That's what I'd like to do. It's right in the middle of the Mexican jungle, about five, six hours
north of Mexico City. The only way out of it's by rope, on a winch...

Warwick Hadfield: ...(laughs)...

Roland Simpson (a.k.a Slim):...you know, in terms of technical jumping I'm not worried about
hitting the object which is really the biggest issue.

Warwick Hadfield: You're more worried about getting out, back up off the winch...

Roland Simpson (a.k.a Slim): Yeah, that is, and flying Mexican Airlines.

Mick O'Regan: Warwick Hadfield having a laugh with BASE jumper Roland Simpson, back in November
2003.

The program was produced by Maria Tickle and Melissa May.

Thanks to the current crew of Andrew Davies and Peter McMurray.

All the details about listening online, downloading the audio or reading a transcript can be found
at the Radio National website.

I'm Mick O'Regan, and that was the penultimate edition of The Sports Factor