Admit it — you’ve seen a video of someone risking their life and couldn’t look away. It’s a perfectly human response. Everyone loves daredevils like bullfighters, deep-sea divers, and sportsmen. They take risks so we don’t have to.
When Scottish cyclist, Danny MacAskill, found himself in a life-threatening situation, people were transfixed. He knew what he was getting into, after all. Viewers sat back and enjoyed the danger of his reckless decisions. His lack of caution was mesmerizing — and he wondered if he’d finally made a fatal mistake.
Before Danny MacAskill was a risk-taking cyclist, he was, as the Scots say, just a wee laddie with a sense of adventure. Fascinated by all things movement, he trained as a mechanic in his teenage years. While working on automobiles, Danny fantasized about one place in particular.
When you hear “Scotland’s Isle of Skye,” what do you picture? If it’s jaw-dropping, awe-inspiring beauty, you’re on the nose. This scenic fairyland is a 640-square mile landmass located off the coast of West Scotland. If it’s not on your bucket list, it will be now. Just look at the views!
Tourists love the island. In fact, there’ve been coming in record-breaking numbers for the last few years. Most of them are visiting to climb the island’s biggest attraction, the Black Cuillin mountains. However, most visitors avoid the mountain’s deadly summit with its deadly knife-edge ridges. Enter: Danny MacAskill.
Danny MacAskill is a born-and-raised Skye resident. Since his youth, Danny was free to roam every corner of the island. That is, except for the mountain range. It had loomed over him his entire life. Eventually, Danny stumbled on a talent that beautifully merged all his interests.
As a mechanic, Danny was interested in all types of vehicles. He grew especially fond of mountain bikes. Their low-gravity allowed him to easily perform impressive tricks. After work, Danny would ride around town, perfecting his stunts to the delight of his neighbors. This gave him an idea.
In 2009, Danny posted a video of himself doing tricks in the streets of Scotland. YouTube ate it up. His video got thousands of views, leading to a feeling that Danny would become addicted to. He was now entering the exciting world of street trials.
Street trials are a combination of different cycling sports, like BMX and mountain biking. It’s a creative, free-form technique that requires artistry. Danny fell in love with the non-competitive style, where every move is meant to inspire awe. He was hooked, and so were his viewers.
After enormous success online, Danny quit his mechanic job. He spent all his time perfecting his style. Before he knew it, Danny had a fanbase! His new career landed him in Argentina, Taiwan, and other far reaches of the world. The Isle of Skye, however, had something these other places never could obtain.
Danny decided he wanted to face the Black Cuillin Mountains that had taunted him his entire life. He wasn’t a child anymore. In fact, he was becoming a star. As proof, he would take on one of the most challenging routes in the UK. This meant he’d have to face two treacherous ridges.
The first of the two was Red Cuillin Ridge. Red Cuillin is lower, with jagged, loosely-packed earth that even experienced hikers struggle to cross. Not many dare to take it on, especially not on a mountain bike. The second ridge looked even more menacing.
Passing into the Black Cuillin Ridge means trouble. Located at the center of the island, this ridge comes up to a whopping 3,250 feet. To enter, you must survive Red Cuillin Ridge. After that, you’re looking at a treacherous peak with practically no footing. Danny accepted the challenge confidently.
Danny hired his filmmaker friend, Stu Thompson, to record the life-endangering feat. Together, they would reap the benefits of millions of online viewers. They found big sponsors to support the project, landing them enough money for top-tier recording equipment. They were set for fame — if Danny could make it.
To reach the first ridge, Danny rented a boat. As he rowed along with just his bike and his backpack in tow, a sound whizzed above. Stu Thompson was using a drone to record Danny’s journey from the sky. The camera captured sweeping scenes of the mountain as Danny neared the first checkpoint.
The beginning of Danny’s journey was glorious. Red Cuillin Ridge was drenched in sunshine, giving the drone plenty of majestic lighting. Danny knew this journey would result in the most incredible footage he’d ever made. Other than the fame, Danny had a specific goal in mind.
Danny was here to “bag a Munro.” The “Monros” are a collection of Scottish mountain peaks that reach above 3,000 feet. They were named by the 19th century mountaineer, Sir Hugh Monro. If there was a Monro in the mountains of his island, Danny was going to scale it.
As Danny approached the Monro, known locally as the “Inaccessible Pinnacle,” he realized he’d need to change his plans. Instead of using a rope to hoist himself up, he picked up his bike and scrambled up the side of the peak! If you’re afraid of heights, look away now.
Stu’s drone captured Danny as he finally reached the top of the death-defying summit. He mounted his bike and watched the fog collect on the hills below. Suddenly, Danny was unable to see the summit’s path! To stay alive, he’d need perfect concentration.
Danny had practiced his descent at home. He glided through the thick fog, weaving across patches of grass between the rugged terrain. He kept his eyes fixed on the ground ahead. As he rode, Danny felt a click in his gears. The bike was malfunctioning!
Danny should have seen this moment coming. He was concentrating so intently on the ground below that he was losing track of his gears. He managed to correct his balance, avoiding a slip down the steep hillside. After adjusting the bike, Danny breezed down the remainder of the heart-stopping hillside. He then ended in style…
The athlete finished with an impressive flip, and Danny’s bravery paid off handsomely. His video, titled “The Ridge,” has seen over 55 million views! Danny now leads a wildly successful career in street trial filmmaking. From the rooftops of Spain to the Monros of Scotland, Danny keeps hitting new, harrowing heights for his loving audience. Though he may not be the craziest daredevil out there…
California resident “Mad” Mike Hughes always loved pushing the envelope when it came to public stunts. The 61-year-old made his living as a limo driver, but it was his passion for death-defying acrobatics that truly made him feel alive.
Mike loved the wild lives stuntmen like Evel Knievel led. He wanted to do something that would capture the world’s attention just like Knievel, so he came up with quite the epic plan.
He wanted to build a rocket ship and ride it into space! Set on the idea, he started a fundraising campaign so he’d have enough money for everything required to make an actual working rocket. However, his first campaign run only garnered a little over $300.
But pretty soon more and more people learned about his seemingly-impossible endeavor, and donations started pouring in. Especially from celebrities who wanted to take part in this crazy goal.
Mike raked in nearly $8,000 once his idea gained traction. He finally had the money needed to build a (hopefully) working rocket, but his quest for greatness didn’t come without speed bumps.
Although Mike claimed the Bureau of Land Management gave him verbal permission to perform his rocket launch — so long as the Federal Aviation Administration agreed — the BLM said no such conversation took place.
So, Mike moved the whole operation to a privately owned area of the Mojave desert where law enforcement couldn’t put a halt to anything. All this planning begged the question: why exactly was Mike doing this to begin with?
Mike belonged to a small group of people who call themselves “Flat-Earthers.” He figured if he could get into space he’d be able to prove the Earth was, in fact, a flat disc.
Sounds pretty odd right? Well, Flat-Earth theorists like Mike believe the Arctic Circle is the center point of the massive planetary disc we all live on. Surrounding the edges of the disc is a 150-foot ice wall that keeps the waters in place.
“What about gravity?” you’re probably thinking. Well, these free thinkers are sure gravity is all an elaborate illusion. According to them, this Earth-disc we live on accelerates upwards at 32 feet per second, which keeps us all grounded.
With a launch plan in place and some funds raised, the “self-taught” rocket scientist built a vehicle that, surprisingly, looked like it had the moxie to actually reach some pretty serious heights.
For Mike, there was a lot riding on this launch. A successful trip would, in his eyes, lend credibility to something he passionately believed in. Finally, launch day arrived.
The 61-year-old man loaded himself into his homemade rocket and prepared for the launch that would hopefully see his safe return home. The countdown began.
With all the Flat-Earthers cheering him on, “Mad” Mike launched his homemade rocket off his mobile trailer bed on March 25, 2018. Incredibly, the thing took off in a screaming stream of smoke!
Mike originally planned on reaching a speed of 500 miles per hour, enough speed to launch him into space. However, the ship only reaches 350 miles per hour, and the parachute deployed at an altitude of 1,875 feet.
Sadly, Mike’s mission to space failed. A crew of paramedics met Mike at the scene where the rocket landed back to Earth. They carefully helped him out, making sure his fragile body wasn’t battered and bruised.
Even though Mike claimed all he felt was some minor back pain, he was taken to a hospital to make sure nothing serious took place while he was airborne. Sure, he never made it the full distance, but he certainly made his mark on the world of stunts.
He made such a mark that he caught the attention of Daniel Tosh. The comedian hosted Mike on an episode of his show, Tosh.0, to discuss his failed mission to space and his flat-Earth beliefs. The two also joked about his daring ambition to one day try again.
While Mike never ended up being the rocket man he envisioned, it wasn’t for lack of trying. Luckily his endeavor didn’t seriously injure him, and now he exists as a hero to dedicated Flat-Earthers everywhere.
As wild as Mike’s goal was, other ambitious thrill seekers have tried their hands at doing the impossible. David Hahn, like Mike, decided to do a little home experiment of his own, and it ended up becoming quite the ordeal.
Michigan’s David Hahn might have seemed like an average kid, but in fact, his mind was unlike most of his peers’. He was obsessed with scientific experimentation and it would eventually lead to some very dangerous situations.
David’s passion came about when he was 10 years old and his grandfather gifted him a chemistry book. David was enthralled by its contents and he began dabbling with experimentation himself.
David wanted his experiments to be the real thing, not the kind of simple stuff he did during his grade school science classes. So, he bought beakers, bunsen burners, test tubes, and a plethora of other professional lab equipment. He was determined to teach himself the ins and outs of chemical reactions regardless of the potential hazards.
David was also heavily involved with the Boy Scouts, and he would frequently share his dangerous experiments with his fellow troopers. He actually blew a hole in his tent while camping one night using a personal stockpile of magnesium. David’s experiments were getting dangerous, but nothing prepared his family and his town for what would eventually occur…
You’d think most parents by this time would have taken away their child’s lab equipment after learning they were mishandling hazardous chemicals, but not David’s parents. To them, the small explosions and chemical spills were simply the results of a curious mind. However, they couldn’t have been more wrong.
David’s parents did force him to move his lab setup to their basement. They thought the move would hinder David’s enthusiasm, it did just the opposite; now their son had more room and privacy to conduct his dangerous experiments.
It didn’t take long before David caused an explosion using red phosphorous in the basement. David’s parents must have put a firm stop to his activities at this point, right? Nope. David simply moved his lab into a shed behind his house. Now he had the space to cause some serious problems…
David was fascinated by radioactivity, and now that he had an entire shed to himself, he planned to build something that would eventually send his entire town into a panic…
He wanted to build his own nuclear reactor! Now, this might sound completely insane (and it was) but to David, it was completely doable. All he needed was a way to obtain the radioactive materials to start his new project.
In 1994, when David was only 17, he posed as an adult scientist and began writing letters and making phone calls to places like the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the American Nuclear Society inquiring about the materials he would need for his reactor. Unbelievably, no one ever asked about his credentials and David was able to learn exactly how to obtain and isolate radioactive isotopes. With that information, he could begin building his reactor.
David dismantled smoke detectors to obtain the chemical americium; he also obtained radium through antique luminous clocks and thorium from gas lanterns. He even spent $1,000 on lithium batteries to obtain that particular chemical, as well. He was quickly gathering everything he needed for his reactor. But, would it actually end up working?
Using all of the chemicals he obtained from basic household items, he was able to build a makeshift reactor core. Unbeknownst to everyone in his neighborhood, including his parents, there was a highly dangerous nuclear reactor sitting in his backyard shed. However, it wouldn’t be too long until the entire community knew about it…
Because David had zero experience working with nuclear energy, the level of radiation emitted by his reactor rose to dangerous levels. Using a Geiger counter, David was soon able to detect high levels of radiation five houses away from his shed. Luckily, he recognized his experiment was completely out of control and decided to shut the whole thing down. Unfortunately, it wouldn’t be that easy.
David dismantled his reactor late one night and began loading it into the trunk of his car. He was trying to be as discreet as possible, but he was spotted by neighbors who called the cops, thinking he was stealing tires. When the police arrived, however, it wasn’t tires they found, but something much more terrifying.
The police initially thought David had an atomic bomb in his trunk! The bomb squad was called in, and to everyone’s relief, they were wrong. However, the team measured 1,000 times the amount of radiation that was considered safe! This triggered the Federal Radiological Emergency Response Plan. Then… all hell broke loose!
Because the shed wasn’t a federally recognized nuclear site, it took the Environmental Protection Agency nearly two months to begin their investigation. Eventually, when workers did examine its contents, they were stunned at what they found…
According to a memo written by the EPA, the chemicals in David’s lab presented an imminent and substantial endangerment to public health, welfare, and environment. There was also dangerous exposure to the nearby human population, animals, and the food chain. Needless to say, the people who lived in David’s community were not only outraged, they were now worried about their own health.
According to the EPA’s official assessment, David’s experiment with the nuclear reactor exposed 40,000 people to dangerous cancer-causing levels of radiation and cost $60,000 to clean up! This chaotic ordeal was how David earned the nickname “Radioactive Boy Scout.”
In 1995, one year after David’s nuclear reactor debacle sent shock waves through his town, the EPA offered to give David a full examination to see how much radiation he was exposed to, but David refused, fearful of what he might learn. David struggled in life as time went on. He joined the army where he served for several years but battled drug and alcohol addiction.
It takes a devoted and unique mindset to build a rocket, hop inside, and attempt to break through Earth’s atmosphere. Even though “Mad” Mike Hughes wasn’t able to get definitive proof the Earth was flat, he still holds that belief firm.
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