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Daredevil defends parachute jump from top of 200ft bonfire: ‘I’ve a lot of experience’



Daredevil defends parachute jump from top of 200ft bonfire: ‘I’ve a lot of experience’

A video of Armagh man and professional base jumper Stephen Maginnis went viral after he parachuted off the Craigyhill bonfire in Larne on Monday evening.

The video, shared widely on social media, shows Stephen jumping off the more than 200ft pyre before quickly opening a parachute and gliding to the ground while people gathered around the bonfire look on.

This year’s structure, some 363 pallets high with a 35ft beacon perched on top, was completed on Sunday.

Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Stephen – also known as ‘Sexy Drummer Bai’ – said he had been planning a jump like that for around five years.

“I’ve been base jumping for 11 years, and 13 years skydiving, so I’ve a lot of experience of being around the world; in the Alps a lot, up in the mountains a lot,” he said. “Every jump you take differently and I like to do stuff that’s never been done before.”

Stephen can hike for five hours for what he described as the “rawest form of human flight” which lasts just a couple of minutes.

He said intense planning goes into base jumps of static objects, and as massive bonfires are unique to Northern Ireland, he was keen to do be first.

“I was blown away by the Craigyhill build, it’s so neat, it’s a work of art that one,” he said.

“I went up to assess it and if I wasn’t happy I’d have come down again. I packed my parachute to get it flying quicker than normal and it worked perfectly.

“I had my landing areas planned out, I expected to get about three seconds under the canopy but thankfully the way the ground was falling away from me I got more time under it.”

Stephen said it’s like this will be a “one and done” scenario as he has ticked a bonfire jump off the bucket list.

He thanked Craigyhill bonfire organisers for letting him make the record jump in aid of charity, raising funds for Skye Carson and Scarlett Rossborough.

Scarlett, aged nine, was out on a day trip to see Carrickfergus Castle when she was tragically knocked down by a car.

Her family have been raising funds on her behalf to the children’s hospice a place that is close to the family’s hearts.

Meanwhile, 15-months-old Skye has been diagnosed with a rare form of brain cancer which has now spread to her spine. It’s understood she starts chemotherapy on the Twelfth week for 18 months. There have been concerns and fears expressed about the size of the bonfire and the potential for someone to get hurt. But yesterday, bonfire organisers said the stunt was carried out by a professional, “not some eejit (idiot) with a parachute,” they posted on Facebook.

“He does this for a living plus he has a pilot’s licence as well. This professional had prepped for this days before.”

Larne bonfire as it neared completion (Photo by Kevin Scott)

On Monday, Sinn Fein councillor James McKeown said there were questions for the organisers over safety at the site.

“There are grave concerns at the actual safety of that bonfire and the height it is. It is close to properties and certainly is something that the council should be taking another look at,” he said.

“Certain standards have to be met; there are questions over what funding they are getting for it, or how much it is actually costing and how much it is costing the ratepayer.

“It’s all well and good having a bonfire, but there is a big clear-up afterwards that is usually left to the council.

“There are questions to be asked about it, but hopefully it goes off safely.”

Despite the obvious risks that could be associated with thousands of people celebrating close to a 200ft bonfire — as well as dangers during the pyre’s construction — the builders have always insisted that they prioritise safety.

In April, hundreds of mattresses were delivered to the site at Craigyhill, with organisers saying they were to be placed around the base of the structure for safety reasons.

“As part of efforts to promote safer bonfire building, Craigyhill have acquired a number of precautions to aid our ongoing pre-planned safety strategies,” posted organisers on the Craigyhill Bonfire and Cultural Facebook page.​

The fundraiser can be found at by searching for “Skye Carson & Scarlett Rossborough”.

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