Top 10 High Altitude Stunts

5. Larry Walter’s Lawn Chair Airship

“Lawnchair Larry” was bored with his life as a trucker. Together with his girlfriend at the time he figured out a way to break the monotony. They inflated and attached 45 weather balloons to a lawn chair, threw Larry in it armed with a pellet gun and radio then cut the cords holding it down. He rocketed upwards at a startlingly high rate of speed, topping out at about a whopping 15,000 feet in the air. Noticing that he was crossing into federal air space, he began to shoot the balloons with his pellet gun before accidently dropping it overboard. Luckily he had taken out enough balloons for a slow descent, but he ended up tangled in power lines. There was a resulting power outage, and Larry was fined for crossing into airspace reserved for commercial use. Sadly, Larry’s 15 minutes of fame was short lived. He became increasingly depressed with life and committed suicide a decade later in 1993.


4. Jeb Corliss Flies Through China’s Tianmen Hole

The Tianmen Hole is in a mountain. This stunt consisted of dropping out of a helicopter, navigating his way through the hole and landing safely on the other side. The Wingsuit resembles and operates much like a flying squirrel spreading its membranes. The landing itself could qualify as a stunt as Corliss landed on a small bridge. Jeb Corliss continues to be a world renowned pioneer in Wingsuit flying and BASE jumping.


3. Philippe Petit’s World Trade Center Walk

French high wire artist Philippe Petit has performed dozens of high wire feats, but in 1974 he did the unthinkable. After six years of planning, Petit walked between the World Trade Center Twin Towers in New York City. Keep in mind this was not a sanctioned event. Before his walk, he snuck into the towers several times as they were being constructed and flew over via helicopter to obtain aerial photos. Petit had to obtain fake ids to get into the tower and somehow transfer all his specialized equipment up to the roof. He even wore similar clothing to building workers. During his high wire walk, Petit walked back and forth between the towers eight times with the performance lasting almost one hour. He also sat on the wire, did little knee dances and laid on the wire. Finally, he moved off the wire into the arms of the police. All charges were later dropped and he was given a lifetime pass to the observation deck of the WTC.


2. Alain Robert Climbs the Burj Khalifa

The planet’s true Spider-man, Frenchman Alain Robert has climbed most of the world’s buildings with little more than climbing shoes and chalk. Probably Robert’s most notable climb to date is that of the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. He was required to use a safety harness for parts of the trip, but since the entirety of the climb was 828 metres (2,717 ft), we can let him off the hook for this one. From the Empire State Building to the Eiffel Tower and virtually every notable skyscraper in between, Robert has defied gravity, death, and the law (he has been arrested quite a few times) when it comes to pushing his limits. His climbs are grueling and often afford little rest, so his physical health needs to be kept at its optimum potential. He even wore a Spider-man costume while climbing a building in Paris.


1. Felix Baumgartner: Red Bull Stratos

Over fifty years since the space age officially began, Austria’s Felix Baumgartner became the first human to jump from the edge of space. He plummeted so fast that he became the first human to break the sound barrier without technological aid. The jump was used to record data on creating better pressure suits for high altitude pilots. Baumgartner’s ascent using a helium-filled balloon marked the highest altitude man has achieved by such a means. The jump shattered a record set in 1960 by USAF pilot Joe Kittinger who freefell 31,341m (102,800ft). Kittinger played an integral role mentoring and monitoring Baumgartner for his record-breaking fall. Although his stratospheric skydive is by far his most daring feat, Baumgartner has been testing fate for much of his life. His resume of death defying feats is what qualified him for this project.

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