I’m gonna make it! I’m gonna make it! This is the greatest thrill of my life! I’m king of the world! — Homer, “Bart The Daredevil”
Homer Simpson’s iconic jump of Springfield Gorge in 1990 calls to mind daredevil Evel Knievel’s much-hyped but ultimately unsuccessful attempt to jump Idaho’s Snake River Canyon in 1974. Leaving his motorcycle at home, Evel put over $150,000 into the Skycycle X-2, a steam-powered rocket that was to propel him over the 3/4-mile wide canyon before a live audience of over 100,000.
To give you an idea of just how wide a 3/4-mile canyon is, it’s about .75 miles wider than one can clear in a $150,000 spaceship (actual launch comes around 2:20):
To his credit, Evel himself acknowledged the likelihood of failure, a testament to the never-give-up and never-think-things-out spirit of the stuntman. This was, after all, a man who still leads the Guinness Book Of World Records with 433 broken bones over the course of his lifetime.
“I didn’t think I even had a 50-50 chance to make it,” Knievel remembers. “Everyone told me not to do it, but I was determined to keep my word, so I climbed up and got strapped in. When I punched that power button I thought, ‘God, here I come.’”
Though Evel passed on in 2007, his son, Robbie Knievel, has since voiced his intentions to someday successfully replicate his father’s jump, so we still may have a chance to see who gets the last laugh.