AMERICAN stuntman Eddie Braun has completed what his idol Evel Knievel famously failed to do back in 1974: jump nearly half a kilometre across Snake River Canyon in Idaho. While Evel’s Skycycle X-2 rocket had the ’chutes deploy too early, causing it to land at the bottom of the canyon, Hollywood stuntman Braun has just pulled it off. Launching a steam-powered rocket – similar to the one Evel used – up to 400mph and 2000ft above the canyon, Eddie landed safely, finally realising the dream of his hero almost 42 years later to the day.
The vehicle Eddie used is called Evel Spirit, a nod to the late stuntman, who Eddie, like many others who grew up in the 70s, idolised. It was built by Scott Truax, son of former US navy engineer Robert Truax, who built the Skycycle rocket that was supposed to send Evel Knievel over the canyon in ’74. Eddie believes Knievel could have completed his stunt had the conditions been better, so his steam-powered rocket was built as an exact replica of his idol’s, albeit with an updated parachute system. Eddie reckons the whole stunt cost around US$1.6 million.
Since Evel Knievel’s attempt, many have expressed interest in recreating the stunt, including Knievel’s two sons Robbie and Kelly. However, Eddie Braun is technically the only one to have successfully completed it – I guess you could argue that Knievel technically did clear the canyon, but wind blew him back towards the launch side after the parachutes deployed early.
Like that famous attempt in ’74, this latest death-defying stunt drew plenty of attention. In Knievel’s time hundreds turned out to watch the launch in person, and even more viewed it live in theatres and arenas around America. Eddie’s jump has clocked up plenty of YouTube views, though his lack of Evel-like rock-star status means his incredible stunt will likely go unnoticed by the masses.
Still, Eddie was just happy to complete the stunt and come away alive. “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,” Braun said in a statement after the jump. “I’m simply finishing out his dream. How many people get to finish the dream of their hero?”
Check out Evel Knievel's orginal attempt in the video below: