When you hear the phrase "skydive from space," you pretty much have to stop whatever you're doing and say, "Wait, what? Is that even possible?"
Actually, Joseph William Kittinger II basically did just that, way back in 1960. And now, someone's about to do it AGAIN.
We know what you're thinking: Wasn't Yuri Gagarin the first man in space, and didn't he satellite the Earth a year later? Yes, you're right, smartypants: Kittinger didn't "skydive from outer space" so much as execute a "high-altitude bailout" from 76,400 feet. And for what it's worth, he fainted.
Today, Austria's Felix Baumgarnter will try to beat the record, using a space-suit, a parachute, and a "specialized weather balloon." Many an astronaut has gazed at the Earth from 23 miles above its surface, but none have ever then screamed the equivalent of "Geronimo!" and swan-dived off their spacecraft.
This event made us think about some other crazy-deadly stunts, where daredevils (nut-jobs) have tested their ability to face fear (lethal danger) in a quest to prove human mettle (laugh in the Reaper's face):
Evel Knievel's Jumps: Contrary to popular belief, the motorcycle madman Evel Knieval never actually attempted to jump the Grand Canyon on a sweet chopper. Instead, he jumped Snake River Canyon inside a kind of homemade rocket. "I decided to fly through the air and live in the sunlight and enjoy life as much as I could," he once said. Given how many times he nearly died (including a 30-day coma after one particularly bad wreck), Knievel sure had an unusual way of loving life. Knievel always wanted to jump the widest canyon in the country, but the U.S. government kept rejecting him. That distinction finally went to his son, Robbie Knievel, who continues the daredevil legacy to this day.
Alex Honnold's Solo Ascents: He's not the only free-climber in the world, but he's probably the best. What is "free-climbing," you ask? It's rock-climbing without the inconvenience of ropes... or carabiners... or anything that might keep you from falling hundreds of feet to your death. This pastime has become increasingly popular among climbers who don't seem to be afraid of anything, including shattering every bone in their bodies.
Dancing on Biplanes: Not many people know that a "Flying Circus" was once a more literal entertainment than British sketch comedy: "Barnstormers" would perform terrifying stunts on the wings of biplanes. Air shows are still pretty popular, but it's hard to believe that aerobats were dancing the Charleston at several thousand feet, way back in the 1920s. What's more: A lot of these stunt-people were women.
Everything Les Stroud Does: Les Stroud was just a humble songwriter from Ontario before he decided to produce, direct, write and star in his own TV series. Survivorman gave Stroud the excuse to snowmobile into the Arctic, drift on an inflatable raft in the middle of the ocean, and eat pretty much anything he found. Stroud not only threw himself into incredibly dangerous wilderness; he also managed to film the entire series himself, thanks to portable, water-proof cameras. For three harrowing seasons, Stroud always muddled through dehydration and stalking predators with an affable sense of humor. But nature caught up with him: At one point, a parasitic worm infected his mouth for a full year, and no doctor could remove it.
Going to Work... on a Radio Tower: Until a certain YouTube video went viral, most people had no idea how breathlessly terrifying it is to work on an ordinary radio tower. 1,768 feet is taller than any U.S. skyscraper, and it's also the same altitude that most prop planes fly. Of course, "Stairway to Heaven" isn't a "stunt" video. It's just a short documentary about what maintenance workers do on an average day—and often without harnesses.
Which crazypants stunt do you think is the craziest?