Fact or Fiction: Daredevils
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Adrenaline junkies get their fix by daring to do the unthinkable. These daredevils push the limits on what can and can't be done. But how much do you really know about thrill seekers? Prepare to judge yourself on your daredevil knowledge, but whatever you do, don't try these things at home.
Funambulism is another term for the daring activity of tightrope walking.
Funambulism describes a daredevil activity high in the air, but not one with a parachute. Tightrope walkers, or people who walk along thin wires or rope at great heights, are called funambulists.
almost fact: Funambulism isn't tightrope walking, it's skydiving!
No person has successfully scaled, or upwardly climbed, skyscrapers without the help of equipment.
Spidey better watch out! Alain Robert, known as the French Spiderman, has scaled many of the world's tallest skyscrapers with climbing shoes and his bare hands.
almost fact: People scale the lower parts without equipment -- but the higher portions require gear.
Barnstorming, or when pilots perform stunts in airplanes, got its name from pilots using farmland for take-offs and landings.
almost fact: The activity's name originates from people huddling around barns to watch the shows as well.
Barnstormers used farmland and barns for their shows, which consisted of adventurous dives, dips and people doing tricks outside of the plane midair.
The first man to survive Niagara Falls' drop in a barrel was accompanied by his cat.
almost fact: This was not a man's doing. A woman and her cat braved the treacherous drop together.
Annie Taylor and her feline friend were the first to conquer Niagara Falls' 176-foot (54-meter) drop in a barrel. Talk about a tight squeeze!
The king of all daredevils, Evel Knievel, received his alias while in jail.
Though Knievel didn't do anything blatantly "evil," the moniker stuck while he was in jail for stealing hubcaps.
almost fact: He got the name from friends, not while in jail.
"Wingwalkers," or daredevils who ventured outside of moving planes to perform stunts, became popular entertainers in the 1960s.
Like barnstorming, wingwalking rose to prominence in the 1920s.
almost fact: These bad boys became well-known in the 1950s instead.
Live performances aren't the only ways audiences can get their daredevil fix -- DC Comics created the comic series "Daredevil" in 1964.
almost fact: Marvel Comics sired the comic, not DC Comics.
Daredevil Matthew Murdock, a blind superhero with heightened senses, belongs to the Marvel Comics Universe.
The first human projectile performed his trick in drag.
Before the introduction of the human cannonball, a platform with heavy springs thrust a young man named Lulu high in the air, to the amazement of the crowd. Lulu preferred to perform in women's clothes.
almost fact: This daredevil wasn't wearing clothes at all!
BASE jumping, or freefalling from relatively low altitudes, is a daredevil activity because jumpers must deploy their parachutes quickly.
almost fact: It's also daring because jumpers have little time to handle complications or wind conditions.
Not only do these daredevils act quickly, they have to handle changing weather conditions, too, which could cause them to fall faster. This is why BASE jumping is illegal in some places.
Daredevil Felix Baumgartner holds the world record for the highest and lowest BASE jumps.
As of January 2010, Baumgartner, an Austrian BASE jumper, has performed death-defying jumps from the highest and lowest altitudes on record.
almost fact: He's got the highest jump on his resume, but not the lowest.
Evel Knievel's famous motorcycle jump at Caesars Palace in Las Vegas, Nev., was so memorable because he landed perfectly.
Knievel missed the landing and was rushed to the hospital, where he remained for 29 days. Though predicted never to walk again, Knievel pushed onward to jump over the Grand Canon soon after.
almost fact: He did it blindfolded too!
Cannons used for human cannonball performances are real, but they use less power to reduce injury.
Cannons used in these stunts are far from the real thing. "Explosions" are bursts of compressed air that launch daredevils into the air. Sorry folks, the cloud of smoke is just an effect.
almost fact: They're real canons used at full power.
In 1920, poor Charles Stephens lost his arm attempting to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel.
almost fact: Stevens did lose his arm -- but it's all that was left in the barrel when it got to the bottom.
Sadly, Stephens' tattooed arm was the only part of him found strapped inside the barrel at the bottom of the falls. By tying an anvil to his feet, Stephens had unknowingly created a death plunge for himself.
Robbie Knievel, one of Robert "Evel" Knievel's sons, has NOT completed the majority of his father's motorcycle jumps.
The daredevil genes carry on! Robbie has completed the majority of his dad's famous jumps. He's still trying for the rest.
almost fact: In fact, he hasn't completed one.
The first ever non-frame parachute jump was made from a hot air balloon.
Jacques Garnerin plunged out of a hot air balloon in 1797 to test a non-frame parachute.
almost fact: It was from a hot air balloon's much bigger cousin, a dirigible.
During his humble beginning as a motorcycle shop owner, Evel Knievel attempted to jump over a box of rattlesnakes and a mountain lion in order to attract visitors.
Good ol' Evel pulled in customers by jumping over these animals in his motorcycle. He fell short -- landing on the snakes and in front of the lion. In retrospect: not such a great idea.
almost fact: He didn't do it; his brother did.
No one has tightrope walked across the Niagara River.
It's been done before. "The Great Blondin," or Jean Francois Gravelot, and his competitor "The Great Farini," William Leonard Hunt, balanced their way across several times.
almost fact: One person did a long, long time ago.
The MTV show "Jackass" was known for its daring and senselessly dangerous stunts.
We remember Johnny Knoxville and company, but we don't want to think about all of the painful things they subjected themselves to!
almost fact: It was a stand-up comedy show.
Calling themselves polar bears, these Russian groups enjoy swimming in frigid temperatures, even though they risk frostbite and hypothermia.
almost fact: In Russia, they call themselves walruses, NOT polar bears.
Think twice before diving in with these guys -- the walruses. And don't confuse them with winter bathers in other parts of the world, who may call themselves polar bears.
If a skydiver's parachute doesn't work, he's out of luck.
almost fact: He can hope he lands on something soft ... or that his reserve chute opens.
The vast majority of skydivers pack a reserve parachute as well in case the first doesn't deploy.
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