Break a record and be famous or die trying
The Guinness Book of Records doesn’t support nor encourages people to risk their own lives in order to break old records. Till today there are at least a dozen of failed and deadly tries in attempt for breaking previous records. It doesn’t seem like they will ever stop.
1 Lowell Bayles
The most dangerous records of all involve speed. One of the earliest deaths in the race to be fastest person on Earth was Lowell Bayles. The man was originally a mine engineer before he started taking flight lessons from a former World War I pilot instructor. Eventually, Bayles became a stunt pilot with a team who performed across the country. At the 1931 National Air Races, he tried to break the speed record by going 482 kilometers per hour, which would make him the fastest human in history. While flying 75 m above the ground, Bayles achieved the speed he wanted but, in a freak accident, the fuel cap came loose, flew through the windshield and struck Bayles in the head, knocking him out. After losing the control of the plane, it crashed into a flame ball and Bayles was thrown about 150 meters from the plane. He was pronounced dead at the scene.
2 Bert Hinkler
Also known as “The Australian Lone Eagle”, Hinkler was an aviator and inventor. During World War I, he worked as a gunner and observer for the Royal Naval Air Service. He invented many small gadgets that were used in planes up until the second World War. He was one of the pioneers in flight and manufactured his own planes and was one of the first people to fly solo from Australia to England as well as the first person to fly solo across the Southern Atlantic Ocean. On January 7, 1933, at the age of 40, Hinkler took off from the London Air Park, Hanworth, England, heading towards Australia to beat the current time of 8 days and 20 hours. Later that same day, Hinkler’s plane crashed in the Tuscon Mountains in Italy. After his body was recovered, he was given a full military burial on orders of Benito Mussolini.
3 Brigitte Lenoir
A rebreather is a piece of scuba equipment that recirculates air, removing the carbon dioxide, giving the wearer clean oxygen. In rebreather deep diving, the idea is to dive as deeply as possible while wearing a re breather and surface without dying. 40-year-old Brigitte Lenoir from Valais, Switzerland was rebreather diving in Dahab, Red Sea, Egypt trying to beat her own record of 154 m. Her goal for her dive on May 16, 2010 was 200 m. Unfortunately, at 147 m something went wrong. This was despite the fact that there many safety precautions, including oxygen tanks on a cable which Lenoir could access, and a team of experts helping her. The most likely culprit was a faulty valve in the pure oxygen valve which causes pure oxygen poisoning. Her death was immediate and she didn’t suffer.
4 Jessica Dubroff
Jessica Dubroff was a 7-year-old pilot trainee who, at the behest of her father, attempted to become the youngest person to pilot a plane across the United States. She called her coast-to-coast flight “Sea to Shining Sea”. The little girl with big ambitions was an instant media sensation. Although she was too young to get a pilot’s license, a rated pilot had to be at the controls at all time while Dubroff flew the plane. On April 10, 1996, Dubroff, her flight instructor Joe Reid, and her father Lloyd Dubroff, took off in Reid’s Cessna 177B from Half Moon Bay, California. Their ultimate goal was to reach Cape Cod, Massachusetts. After 24 hours they landed in Cheyenne, Wyoming, for a rest. The next morning, the trio tried to take off in bad weather. The plane flipped and veered to the right, landing on a residential street and killing all three passengers. An investigation into the crash showed that Reid was in control of the plane when it crashed.
5 Nick Piantanida
Nick Piantanida was selling pets when he discovered skydiving, which led to him going on hundreds of jumps. After learning the Soviets had the record for the longest free fall, Piantanida decided this was a record he had to beat. While Piantanida was an experienced jumper, he was not a professional, nor was he in the Air Force (usually the people who perform such feats are members of the Air Force). However, Piantanida was able to get funding from sponsors. On Piantanida’s first attempt, high winds tore the roof of his gondola, Strato Jump I, forcing him to jump at 4,900 m before parachuting into St. Paul, Minnesota city dump. On February 2, 1966, on his second attempt using the Strato Jump II, he reached 37642 meters, flying higher than anyone prior to him. However, he could not detach his oxygen hose and had to detach the balloon from the gondola. According to Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, since he returned to Earth without the balloon, he didn’t get the official record. Also, since he didn’t jump he didn’t get a parachute record either. He had third attempt on May 1, 1966, at the 17373 meters mark his suit depressurized. The control room immediately released the parachute on the gondola. Piantanida was alive when the gondola reached the Earth, but the lack of oxygen caused him to go into a coma, and he died 4 months later.