On Thursday, March 25, 1999, Thor Alex Kappfjell BASE jumped from the top of the World Trade Center's Tower 2 (South Tower - the one with the observation deck and not the antenna)
The notable part of this story - the reason I kept it - is that I was in 2 WTC that day. My college roommate and I were in the city on Spring Break. We had gone to the WTC in the early afternoon and purchased tickets to the observation level. While we were there, they announced the escalators to the roof would open, since wind conditions were favorable, and we walked onto the roof observation deck of 2 WTC. This was probably around 2 PM (my ticket, purchased on the ground floor, is stamped 1:23 PM).
Shortly before 3 PM, Kappfjel made his BASE jump from the northwest or southwest corner of the tower (I am not sure based on the photograph) after secretly entering the maintenance area and walking out to the window washing deck of the roof.
As you'll read in the story, Kappfjel was going to leave town Friday night. The second story indicates he was apprehended and arrested sometime on Friday. The third story, while not directly linked to this day, details his untimely demise just a few months later.
As published, New York Post, Friday, 26 Mar 1999, Page 7. Click for an image of the orignal article.
Note: Kappfjell is spelled with one 'l' throughout this story.
Geronimo! A German tourist snapped this shot of Thor Alex Kappfjel disappearing over the edge of the World Trade Center yesterday. ––Christian Proll
Sly Diver Gets Jump on Law
'Human Fly' defies Rudy in leap off Twin Towers
Reported by Andy Geller, Rocco Parascandola, Maggie Haberman and Dareh Gregorian. Written by Gregorian.
The Human Fly strikes again!
A Norwegian daredevil who skydived from the Chrysler and Empire State buildings jumped off the World Trade Center yesterday in a brazen daytime leap - ignoring threats form Mayor Giuliani to lock him up.
"It was perfect! This was the number-one dream in my life," Thor Alex Kappfjel, 32, told the Post.
"It was fantastic. I have no words to describe it."
Kappfjel – who jumped from more than 200 mountains and buildings, including the Eiffel Tower – had originally planned to make the jump in November, bragging that "security will not stop me. I've found a weak spot, several weak spots."
He skipped town, however, after Giuliani and Police Commissioner Howard Safir vowed to clip his wings.
But the lure of the twin towers proved irresistible.
He refused to detail how he managed to get by security – heightened after the 1993 bombing there – saying only that he used a disguise and "a Norwegian Houdini trick."
Shortly before 3 p.m., he made the jump from the observation deck of 2 World Trade Center.
John Goreham was at work on the 37th floor of the Bankers Trust building when he looked across the street and saw "this guy in a big grey and purple parachute flying down between one of the towers and the World Financial Center. It was wild!"
Co-worker Peter Schellback said it was "amazing to see."
"The frist think that went through my mind was, 'What the hell is this guy doing?' He was heading straight towards a fairly crowded highway."
Kappfjel touched down in a small construction area between the north and southbound lanes on West Street, tucked the parachute into his backpack and "hustled across the highway."
"He didn't wait for traffic - he just made tracks" and then vanished into the World Financial Center, Schellback said.
The mayor and the Commissioner are still hoping to swat Kappfjel down.
"This stunt is a crime and a potentially dangerous one. It will be dealt with as a crime," said Matt Higgins, the mayor's spokesman.
Marilyn Mode, Safir's spokesowman, said he created "a public safety hazard" by "jumping into a densely populated urban area."
Police want to charge him with felony reckless endangerment, which could mean a maximum of seven years behind bars.
Kappfjel said he didn't mean to make the mayor angry –"I don't want to go to jail" – but the jump, which gives him the skydiving triple crown for New York skyscrapers, was "worth the risk. Not many joys in life could equal today."
"I'm going to get some margaritas and celebrate - and then I'm leaving town tonight," he said.
Vanishing Act: An elated Kappfjel poses for a photo before making himself scare. ––Brigitte Stelzer
Copyright 1999 New York Post
As retrieved from The New York Times online archives on Mon 1 Oct 2007, originally published Sat 27 Mar 1999.
Metro News Briefs
Parachutist Is Arrested After Trade Center Leap
A Norwegian man was arrested yesterday after parachuting off his third Manhattan skyscraper, the World Trade Center, the police said.
The man, Thor Axel Kappfjell, 32, told the Oslo newspaper Dagbladet that after he evaded security at New York's tallest building on Thursday, he "jumped to applause from those on the roof and the street."
Mr. Kappfjell slipped away after the leap, but was arrested at a midtown hotel yesterday, along with his cousin and a photographer.
The police said Mr. Kappfjell was charged with reckless endangerment and criminal trespassing. He parachuted in October from the Chrysler Building and the 86th floor of the Empire State Building. His accomplices were charged with obstructing government administration.
Greg Trevor, a spokesman for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the Trade Center, said officials were investigating Mr. Kappfjell's evasion of security. Security was tightened at the Trade Center after a Feb. 26, 1993, bombing that killed 6 people and injured more than 1,000.
Copyright 1999, 2007 The New York Times
As retrieved from The New York Times online archives on Mon 1 Oct 2007, originally published Wed 7 Jul 1999.
Daring New York Jumper Killed in Norway
A Norwegian parachutist who frustrated police and entertained the public with daredevil leaps from some of the world's tallest buildings was killed today in a jump from a cliff.
Thor Axel Kappfjell, 32, became an icon to those who jumped from fixed objects for his leaps from the World Trade Center, the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building in New York, the Eiffel Tower in Paris and even the Norwegian Prime Minister's office in Oslo.
Mr. Kappfjell was killed just after midnight when he jumped off the 3,300-foot high Kjeraag cliff over the waters of Lysefjord near the city of Stavanger, 300 miles west of Oslo.
He had been the third of a dozen jumpers planning to leap off the cliff in thick fog.
Mr. Kappfjell's body was found near the base of the cliff, and the police said his parachute had opened. Witnesses also said they heard his parachute open, and fellow jumpers told the TV-2 network in Norway that he probably hit the face of the cliff and slid down.
Kappfjell pleaded guilty in New York City in April to three counts of reckless endangerment for his leaps from the World Trade Center on March 25, the Empire State Building on Oct. 24 and the Chrysler Building on Oct. 27. He was sentenced to seven days of community service.
He had frustrated New York police by slipping past tight security at the buildings, making his jumps and then vanishing without a trace.
Kappfjell was an offshore oil worker. He claimed to have jumped from more than 200 buildings, towers and bridges. He was single, and said he could afford all the fines he had been assessed over the years.
Copyright 1999, 2007 The New York Times