Saturday 26 May 2018

Where Evel dared, rocket man Eddie Braun succeeds in canyon jump

Stuntman Eddie Braun flies the 'Evel Spirit' rocket over the Snake River Canyon at Twin Falls, Idaho (Pat Sutphin/The Times-News via AP)
Stuntman Eddie Braun flies the 'Evel Spirit' rocket over the Snake River Canyon at Twin Falls, Idaho (Pat Sutphin/The Times-News via AP)

Stuntman Eddie Braun succeeded in successfully jumping over the Snake River Canyon in Idaho where his boyhood hero Evel Knievel famously failed.

He soared over the canyon on Twin Falls in a custom-built rocket dubbed Evel Spirit.

It launched off a steep ramp on the edge of the canyon rim at about 4pm local time in front of hundreds of onlookers and reached an estimated 400mph before its parachute deployed.

That allowed Braun and the ship to land safely in fields on the other side of the 1,400ft-wide canyon.

The 54-year-old has said the rocket was identical to the model Knievel used for his failed canyon attempt in September 1974.

Knievel landed in the bottom of the canyon after his parachute prematurely deployed, but walked away with only minor injuries. The spot where he jumped was 1,600ft-wide.

Braun said after the jump: " I feel like the no name third string quarterback of a junior varsity team that just won the Super Bowl. My team got me there. I ran it into the end zone. We scored and won."

Scott Truax, the designer of the rocket, told the Idaho Statesman that after Braun got the OK to launch he did not hesitate.

"He was gone in a cloud of steam and I couldn't see anything until just before he pulled his chutes," he said.

The designer's father built the original X2 Skycycle for Knievel, following the blueprints down the last bolt, and deviating only by updating the parachute system, and the jump followed months of testing.

Braun hoped his effort would prove that Knievel could have made it across the canyon if his parachute had deployed at the correct time.

Before the jump, he said he was optimistic he would make it across the canyon.

"I wouldn't be doing this if I thought it couldn't be done," he said.

Still, he had prepared for the worst in the days before the stunt, asking his young son to one day walk his sisters down the aisle at their wedding if Braun died in his attempt.

Braun had trouble finding corporate sponsors for the stunt, and said he spent about 1.5 million dollars (£1.15 million) of his own money on the jump.

He looked at the stunt as a way to pay homage to Knievel, who inspired him to become a stuntman.

"I like to say I'm not doing something that Evel Knievel couldn't do," he told the Statesman before making the jump. "I'm simply finishing out his dream. How many people get to finish the dream of their hero?"

The mystique of Knievel's failed stunt has lived on, with would-be daredevils showing up every decade or so to propose similar jumps.

Knievel's son Robbie visited Twin Falls in the 1990s and in 2010 to float the idea of a possible jump, though it never came to fruition and Braun appears to have been the first to actually try the stunt since the original attempt.


Press Association

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