'Jumping' the Grand Canyon
The Grand Canyon is the Moby Dick of American daredevils. Motorcycle jumper Evel Knievel dreamed of jumping the canyon, but had to settle for an aborted rocket launch over the Snake River. Evel's son Robbie jumped a stretch of the Grand Canyon in 1999 and broke his leg during a choppy landing. But jumping the canyon in a rocket or a motorcycle is a cinch compared with riding a skateboard over it. That's why Bob Burnquist's plan was never to jump over the canyon, but to jump into it.
Yes, this is the same Bob Burnquist that brought us the Loop of Death. This time, the multiple X Games champion decided to invent a stunt that combined skateboarding and BASE jumping (jumping from a fixed object like a bridge or a cliff and using a parachute to break the fall). With help from his ramp-making team, he designed and built a huge launch ramp with a twist. At the end of the ramp, where the rider usually lifts off into space, was a long curved rail. Here's the idea -- Burnquist would gather lots of speed on the ramp, then slide across the rail to ensure a safe distance from the rocky cliffs before beginning his BASE jump to the canyon floor.
On his first attempt, Burnquist missed the rail and fell into a chaotic descent that almost ended in tragedy before Burnquist righted himself and pulled his shoot at the last second. Not one to be thwarted by a near-death experience, Burnquist and his ramp designer made some adjustments to the lip of the launch ramp, then went for it again. This time, he nailed the rail slide and sailed safely off the cliff wall for a smooth 1,500-foot (457 meter) descent.