When I spoke to stuntman Eddie Braun last week, he wasn't entirely sure he would be successful in his attempt to launch himself over Idaho's Snake River Canyon in a steam-powered rocket. He told me if he did make it, however, he would definitely be hurting. Turns out he was right.
"I would never do this again. It just sucked, it hurt, it was hot, it was uncomfortable," he told reporters on the other side of the canyon immediately after successfully completing the jump that his idol Evel Knievel failed to clear in 1974.
Judging by the above cockpit video of Braun during Friday's jump, it's clear why the jump was uncomfortable. Braun is quickly hurled 2,000 feet (610 meters) above the canyon and then begins a series of rolls that are dizzying just to watch before pulling the series of three parachutes that guide him to a safe landing.
If the experience was that unpleasant for Braun, who has been throwing himself off bridges and crashing cars in Hollywood for a living for the past three decades, it must have been pretty intense. Despite his discomfort, Braun is clearly grateful and elated to have succeeded.
Braun told me before the historic jump that he spent over $1.6 million of his own cash on the attempt as a last hurrah before his retirement and a tribute to Knievel, who inspired him to pursue his career as a stuntman.
The story of the quest to complete Knievel's failed jump over the canyon is a little-known epic years in the making. Braun was just one of several who aspired to complete the jump over Snake River, including Knievel's own children. Braun and at least one other aspiring rocket man had hoped to make the jump on the 40th anniversary of Knievel's attempt in 2014, but those plans fizzled.
Braun continued to move forward, though, securing the endorsement of the Knievel family and teaming up with Scott Truax, the son of Bob Truax, who built the "Sky Cycle 2" rocket that Knievel used in his 1974 attempt. Truax used his father's old blueprints to create Braun's "Evel Spirit" rocket that successfully carried him over the canyon.
The decision to launch Friday was a sudden change from the original target date of Saturday, but when ideal weather conditions emerged Friday, the decision was made to launch early. Originally, Braun's team had launched a Kickstarter to fund the launch, with the opportunity to watch the launch via livestream or in person as incentives to donate to the campaign.
That Kickstarter was canceled in August, though, with the word that a network would be paying to broadcast the jump live instead. Up until the last moment, there was still talk of a live broadcast that never materialized. However, the team has said via Facebook that a documentary is in the works and you can watch the trailer below.