Meet the world's greatest daredevils
These stunts by David Blaine, Heather Larsen, Hezi Dean and others are sure to make your pulse race.
There may be a little bit of daredevil inside everyone. Whether it's taking a ride on a roller coaster, skydiving or simply riding an elevator to the top of a tall building, it's human nature to test one's comfort level. But some thrill seekers have a lot of daredevil inside them. These adventurers seemingly risk death to test their limits. They defy fear and anxiety, in an attempt to redefine what man can and can't do. Below are a few of these rare specimens.
Colorado-based tightrope walker Heather Larsen is in corporate finance by day, but her tightrope walking hobby has us dazzled. She recently performed a daring walk, 100 feet above ground, over part of Jerusalem. "It was such an incredible experience," she said shortly after completing the feat. "It's almost overwhelming to think about." The vertigo-inducing walk was filmed as part of an upcoming crowdsourcing Kickstarter campaign for Joey, an Israeli-designed urban backpack created by Koala Gear. “We’re looking to create better balance with our bag, and we needed someone who knows what balance is,” Yonatan Aldouby, a Koala Gear founder, told local media. “Heather’s whole life is about balance.”
This American magician and illusionist gained prominence during the late 1990s with his street magic specials on ABC. But it was as an endurance artist that he really made his name. In 2000, Blaine stood encased in a massive block of ice, lightly dressed, for more than 63 hours. In 2003, he went to London, where he went without food for 44 days while sealed inside a transparent Plexiglas case suspended 30 feet above the River Thames. He's also remained submerged underwater for a week and, as seen above, taught himself to ingest and regurgitate lighter fluid.
Wallenda has made his name as a high wire act. He's walked across Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon on a tightrope – the latter without a safety harness – and currently holds nine different Guinness World Records. The American's most recent feat took place in Orlando, Fla., where he walked along the spinning Orlando Eye, a 400-foot observation wheel. It should come as no surprise that he's grown to be a daredevil – after all, he is a Wallenda, as in The Flying Wallendas, a daredevil and stunt act that has been performing around the world for more than a century.
Much like Blaine, this Israeli, who told From The Grapevine he thinks of himself as an "extreme magician," started off with an incredible magic act, segued into illusions and earned a wider audience with his endurance stunts. In fact, he's even been labeled the "Israeli David Blaine," and for good reason. In 2011 he broke the world record held by Blaine, standing on top of an 89-foot tower for just over 35 hours (Blaine did it for 35 hours even). Dean first emerged the year before when he spent 66 hours entombed in a block of ice, again topping Blaine, who achieved 63 hours in 2000.
You'd be forgiven for thinking this Frenchman is a madman – because you may well be right. Robert, known as the "French Spider-Man," is a rock climber and urban climber. He earned fame with his free solo climbs in which he scales tall buildings without a safety harness. Among those buildings are some of the world's tallest and most iconic, including the Sydney Opera House, the 88-story Jin Mao Building in Shanghai, China, and the Petronas Towers, in Kuala Lampur, Malaysia (though he was arrested before he could reach the top).
Here's a man who likes to jump from high heights – really high heights. In 2012, he set a world record by skydiving an estimated 39 miles (a record since broken by a Google exec) while reaching top speeds of 843.5 mph. The Austrian has achieved more worldly feats, too. In 2007, he jumped from the 91st floor of the then-tallest building in the world, Taipei 101 in Taipei, Taiwan.
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