Astonishing Tales Of Insanity: The 23-Mile Parachute Jump vs. Rocket Sled

An Austrian skydiver is planning to jump out of a balloon 120,000 feet above the Earth. Is that more or less stupid than a guy strapping a muffler filled with gasoline to his back while sledding down a hill?

A man in Oakland Country, Michigan, decided to spice up his annual "outrageous" backyard sledding party—this man is 62 years old, btw—with a little pyrotechnics. So he filled a used car muffler with gasoline and gunpowder and strapped it to his back, because hey ... The Rocketeer got to make out with the original Jennifer Connolly so this plan has no logical flaws. He's in stable condition.

I'm assuming Snow MacGyver did not have the chemistry, physics and engineering degrees at the disposal of Felix Baumgartner. Later this year, Baumgartner will climb inside a small capsule attached to a 600-foot-wide helium balloon that will carry him 23 miles above North America. That's the part of the stratosphere where the sky is no longer blue because you are essentially in outer space. If you think it's cold in The D, try 100 degrees below zero in a vacuum. Then he'll just step out of the capsule and fall 115,000 feet in five-and-a-half minutes before deploying his parachute. Even though scientists can't conclusively prove that a human being can "transit the sound barrier unencumbered," they're reasonably confident that he'll live. I mean, it's not like wearing a gunpowder backpack, which everyone knows is a bad idea!


Besides, there's very little chance that Baumgartner ends up with second-degree burns on 18% of his body like George Jetson over there, because if the 100% oxygen environment in his totally experimental space suit does happen to ignite, he'll be completely incinerated. Brought to you by Red Bull! I wonder if that's what the paper was referring to when they said that Detroit Rocket Man was "drinking" before the mishap.

So who do you think is crazier? The guy who doesn't think to test his muffler-rocket before deploying it or the guy who jumps out of a perfectly good weather balloon for "science"? I need to sit down with a Red Bull and think about this one.

Preparing for a Record-Breaking 23-Mile-Dive Gallery [Popular Mechanics]
Man hurt using explosives in backyard sledding stunt [Detroit Free Press]

Do you have any stories that you would like to see featured in future Astonishing Tales of Insanity? Daredevils, dumb dudes, mad scientists, or anything that makes you say, "What the hell is that guy (or gal) thinking?" Even (non-imaginary) tales from your own life are eligible. Send them here with the subject: "Tales of Insanity."