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Traveling Vest Virginia
Burton Ervin
Meet The Man Who Jumped First


Burton Ervin of Cowen West Virginia always looked for big challenges. A decorated Korean War veteran, Ervin took part in several covert operations behind enemy lines crossing the 38th parallel into North Korea on 5 separate occasions and returning to tell the story. After his military service was complete, Burton took up skydiving and even convinced his wife to join him on several jumps. Parachute jumping became somewhat boring to Ervin, so he began looking for a new challenge. After a road trip to Fayette County to see the construction of the New River Gorge bridge, Burton had an idea...parachute off the bridge and land safely on the river bank below. After careful and thorough preparation, Ervin successfully made his historic leap on August 17th 1979. News of his jump spread like wildfire and soon daredevils from around the world were descending on Fayette County and making their own jumps. Eventually Ervin approached the Fayette County chamber of commerce and suggested a legal jump day once a year to draw tourists and turn the jumps into a money maker. The first Bridge Day festival was held in 1980 and has become West Virginia's largest single day festival every 3rd Saturday in October...all because one man, Webster County's own Burton Ervin accepted the challenge, and took a giant leap of faith.

Burton Ervin

Burton Ervin Person Interviewed: Burton Ervin
Title: First Man To Jump Off The New River Gorge Bridge
Location: Webster County, West Virginia

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