Usually, when Tony Uragallo's phone rings and it's a journalist calling, it's not good news. The 60 year-old parachutist, who now lives in Zephyrhills, seems tired that it happens that way, yet he still defends his sport with a passion like it's the first time he's talking about it.
"There's nothing that can compare," Uragallo said. "B.A.S.E. jumping is blow your socks off excitement."
Tuesday's call came after police arrested four men in New York City, three of them accused of leaping off the new World Trade Center Tower and the fourth man charged as a lookout.
Uragallo said he doesn't personally B.A.S.E. jump from buildings. His thrills came from mountains, especially in Europe.
"I like flying around the sky - not falling so much," Uragallo said. "You're falling at 30 miles an hour instead of 120."
Still, he has strong opinions about those in New York.
"Those guys that were just arrested are sportsman," he said. "They're not terrorists or burglars. It's as simple as that."
In four years of jumping, Uragallo has an impressive resume as far as the sport is concerned. He was an Australian National Skydiving Champion, 3-time wingsuit distance world champion in Marl, Germany, 2010 Wingsuit time and distance champion in Gransee, Germany, and the 2012 WORLD base Race champion, Heliset, Norway.
"It's the most dangerous sport," he said. "It's easy to hurt yourself but that's the same with anything...motorbikes, whatever...it's easy to hurt yourself."
A B.A.S.E. jump is an acronym which stands for building, antenna, span or earth. It's not new. In 1992, two men in Tampa made headlines after an off-duty police officer said they landed right in front of him after they jumped from the unfinished 42-story C&S Bank building. Then in 2007, Tampa Police released video of two skydivers accused of jumping off the Sky Point Condo.
Another local report happened as late as last year when someone reported jumpers leaped off a cellphone tower at 2222 Lightning Rod Ln. in Plant City.
"This is something we would strongly advise not to do," said Larry McKinnon, spokesman for Hillsborough Co. Sheriff's Office. "First of all it's illegal. It's trespassing on somebody else's property. Second of all the dangers - not only to the jumper but to those on the ground."