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Bandit BASE jumpers play a risky game. Their sport is illegal in all but a few places in the United States.
State laws don't mention BASE jumping by name. But they prohibit risk to life and property. And they forbid breaking and entering and trespassing, which are the required routes to most building roofs.
So BASE jumpers generally don't publicize their exploits. But after the Pitch assured him that his real name would not be used, Tyler began phoning a reporter when he and his companions were supposedly just minutes from a leap -- with the understanding that the reporter would not name the buildings he was called to.
The first call came in the fall of 2002. Tyler and about six of his friends were planning to take down one of Kansas City's downtown office buildings. Tyler went in around 4 p.m. on a weekday wearing a Motorola golf shirt and carrying a notebook and a brown envelope to give the impression he was on a sales call. He planned to wait until the building emptied and then open the door for his fellow jumpers.
He spent the first four hours on the can on the 29th floor.
"Every time someone walked in, I rustled the paper and zipped my fly," he tells the Pitch. "That was the longest dump I've ever taken in my life."
He spent another couple of hours in the stairwell, running up and down between three floors to avoid the cleaning crew. He finally decided to hide under a desk in a cubicle on the eighteenth floor. "I was exhausted," he says. It became obvious that his wait for the building to empty was in vain.
Giving up at 10 p.m., he walked out past the front desk, where a blue security jacket was draped over a chair and a two-way radio spit out static.
"I've been in the building 100 times, and there's never security after 7," he says. "It was intense. It was far more intense than what the jump would have been."
Nine people met him in the parking lot, jumpers and friends who had spent the last couple of hours of Tyler's ordeal drinking at Tanner's Bar & Grill and waiting for his signal.
After a group hug, they pondered their next move.
Someone suggested a crane that stood near an office building just south of Crown Center, and they piled into cars to drive over and check it out.
They saw a couple of mobile homes planted at the base. "Are there people living in those trailers?" Tyler asked.
"It's where the superintendent has sex with the secretary," cracked one of the jumpers.
They estimated the crane's height at a little less than 300 feet. The way it jutted out over the street, it was certainly jumpable.
For several more minutes, they stared at the crane and began daring each other like fourth-graders.
"We go. You go. That kind of deal?" one jumper asked.
"I told my wife I wouldn't get arrested," another said. "I'm sure she'd rather I take up golf."
"We've got to make a decision," someone else said.
"There's a lot of wires in that parking lot," pointed out one of the observers, eyeing the electrical lines powering the streetlights.
"Quit talking. Do it or don't do it," Tyler goaded his friends. "I don't have the energy to climb that fucking thing. It will be here tomorrow."