FAYETTEVILLE, W.Va. -- With a parachute on his back, Lonnie Bissonnette rolled his wheelchair off the 876-foot New River Gorge Bridge and floated in the air for a few seconds until he landed safely on the ground below.
A half hour before his leap, Erika and Patrick Steiner -- surrounded by supportive strangers -- said their "I dos" and then made their second big leap of the day.
And although he was scared to jump a second year in a row, Donald Cripps, 83, of Florida, was the oldest BASE jumper at West Virginia's 33rd annual Bridge Day celebration. It's the only day of the year that people are allowed to legally jump from the world's second-longest single-arch bridge.
About 450 people took part in 1,036 jumps during the largest extreme sports event in the world in Saturday's chilly, cloudy weather.
Many jumpers wore kneepads, hiking shoes and helmets with video cameras. People wore bright, colorful outfits and a couple of people jumped in their American-flag shorts.
BASE jumping -- an acronym for the four categories of fixed objects for jumpers: building, antenna, span and earth -- during Bridge Day is exciting because it brings people together who have the same interests, Bissonnette said.
"I love Bridge Day because we get to see jumpers from all over the world. It's a family reunion here, and I enjoy catching up with everyone," Bissonnette, 47, said.
Bissonnette was the only person to fall through the sky in a wheelchair Saturday. The Canadian -- who has been to 16 Bridge Days -- also made the jump in his wheelchair in 2010, he said.
Bissonnette was injured in July 2004 while attempting a quadruple gainer (an outward facing, inward rotating flip) on his 1100th BASE jump off a 486-foot-tall bridge. The lines of his parachute tangled around his foot, not allowing his parachute to fully open during the fall.
That hasn't stopped the extreme athlete, who most recently jumped off the world's highest tunnel-to-tunnel suspension bridge, in China.
"It's very fulfilling to be able to continue to come back here to jump," Bissonnette said before he jumped. "I know I'm tense and nervous, but the tension from [spectators] is unbelievable."
More than 100,000 people crowded the New River Gorge Bridge and surrounding area.
The West Virginia State Police closed the bridge to regular traffic and rerouted it onto U.S. 19.