Stuntman plans rocket jump across St. Lawrence River
Michael Shulman, CTVNews.ca Staff
Published Sunday, January 25, 2015 6:37PM EST
He calls himself the current “King of Daredevils," a classic stuntman in the vein of the iconic Evel Knievel.
And with his latest stunt, "Mad" Mike Hughes is hoping to launch himself into the upper echelon of daredevil history.
The American stuntman is hoping to fly across the St. Lawrence River in a steam-powered rocket sometime this spring.
If his launch goes according to plan, Hughes will take off from Morrisburg, Ont. and land across the river on Ogden Island in New York.
The stunt has been tried once before – unsuccessfully.
Kenny Powers attempted the jump in 1979, which Hughes called the "greatest stunt ever attempted back in 1979" and overshadowed a similar jump performed by Evel Knievel at Snake River Canyon, Idaho.
"I think jumping from one country to another … would put me in a place in daredevil history that no one can match," Hughes told CTV News.
Powers attempted the jump in a rocket-powered Lincoln. The car travelled 154 metres in the air, before breaking apart mid-flight and crash landing in the river. Powers suffered significant injuries, including eight broken vertebrae, three broken ribs and a fractured wrist.
Hughes will attempt the stunt in an X-2 SkyLimo steam-powered rocket – a craft modeled after the likeness of Knievel's famed red, white and blue Skycycle X-2.
On his website, Hughes says the SkyLimo will reach speeds of up to 563 km/h and soar more than 1,000 metres in the air during the flight.
Of course, there are elements of daring involved with the stunt. Hughes jokingly describes the force generated by his steam-powered engine as "worse than a cross between a bad girlfriend and a divorce attorney."
"It is just absolutely vicious and once I push the button, there's absolutely no stopping it until it is out of water vapour," he said.
Inside the craft, Hughes says he will be feeling the pressure of G-forces, somewhere between four g to seven g. An average person can bear about five g before losing consciousness.
But risks are nothing new to Hughes, who set the Guinness World Record for the longest limousine jump in 2002, by vaulting 31.39 metres in a three-tonne stretch limousine. And last January, he set a record for longest jump in stunt history with a 419-metre flight in his SkyLimo over the Arizona desert.
And for "Mad" Mike Hughes, risks are just the name of the game.
"Well you know, you have to be concerned with every risk,” he said. There needs to be a certain amount of control put on it, but at the end of the day it is still a daredevil stunt.”
Hughes added: "It is not a computer generated image, like you see on TV or some movie in Hollywood -- this is the real thing a guy built, a rocket he's sitting in it and he can be dead in 10 seconds.”
Hughes has tentatively scheduled his cross-border launch for May 30th, but he says he has yet to receive clearance from the St. Lawrence Seaway Authority.