Michael Pelkey (born 1940) is considered to be one of the first fixed object jumpers.
On 24 July 1966, Pelkey and Brian Schubert made the first parachute jumps from the top of the El Capitan mountain in Yosemite National Park. El Capitan is among the world's tallest sheer monoliths, ascending more than 3,000 feet (910 m) straight up from Yosemite Valley. It is the second-highest unbroken cliff in the world, the highest being Mount Thor on Baffin Island in the Canadian Arctic.
In 1980, the idea of fixed object jumping was expanded by Carl Boenish into the concept of BASE jumping (buildings, antennae, spans, and earth), including an exclusive club made up of those who made at least one jump from each of the four categories. Members of this club are awarded a number based on the date of their qualification. The sport of BASE jumping, practiced worldwide today and one of the original extreme sports, was inspired in part by Pelkey and Schubert's El Capitan jump.
Pelkey and Schubert were honored as guest speakers at the 26th annual "Bridge Day" event in Fayetteville, West Virginia on 15 October 2005, where 175,000 spectators converged over the course of the day to take part in the festival. Approximately 450 BASE jumpers from all over the world made more than 800 parachute jumps off the New River Gorge Bridge into the New River Gorge, 876 feet (267 m) below. The New River Gorge Bridge is the second highest span and one of the few places in the United States where BASE-jumping is legal for six hours, one day a year.
Pelkey made his second BASE jump at the 2005 Bridge Day event from the New River Gorge Bridge. He and Schubert planned to jump together at the 2006 event, a few months after the 40th anniversary of their first El Capitan jump. Schubert died jumping at that event, just minutes before Pelkey was scheduled to jump.