Parachutist Jumps Off World Trade Center Tower

September 14, 1980 ·

While tourists and sightseers gawked and gasped, a young man with a parachute leaped from the observation deck atop the South Tower of the 110-story World Trade Center yesterday and floated down to a rendezvous with a car that sped him away.

In the tradition of Phillipe Petit, who walked a tightrope between the trade center’s twin towers in 1974, and George H. Willig, who scaled the South Tower in 1977, the unidentified aerialist thrilled and frightened hundreds of spectators on the streets of Lower Manhattan and on the tower roof enjoying panoramic views on a clear, sunny afternoon.

Most witnesses on the observation deck did not see the parachute, which was hidden in a backpack, and thought the man was committing suicide when he climbed over an electrified fence and dived off the southwest parapet of the 1,360-foot tower.

But after a graceful descent onto the adjacent Battery Park City landfill site on the Hudson, he gathered up his chute, hopped into a waiting car and vanished.

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