Knievel’s plan worked – On 17 September, Braun reached almost 700km/h in just four seconds when he hurtled himself into the air in a steam-powered rocket ‘bike’ to repeat the very stunt he witnessed when he was just a child.
The historically accurate Skycycle replica (see New Tech AMCN Vol 66 No 04), named Evel Spirit, was built by Braun’s trusted stunt coordinators while the rocket itself was built by Scott Truax, the son of the very fellow who built Evel’s original steam-powered rocket, Robert Truax.
The tank of water heated to 450°C created 6000psi of pressure which, when released, shot Braun over 670m skyward with six Gs of acceleration. A series of three separately deployed parachutes did exactly what they were meant to (unlike Evel’s original attempt in 1974) and delivered an unscathed Braun back to earth, almost 1.5km away from the launch site.
“Forget the fact that I was scared to death, it just sucked,” Braun said afterwards. “It hurt, it was so hot. It was uncomfortable. I’ve got to go get a job tomorrow because I just blew $1.6 million [AU$2.09m] on a rocket.”
By Kellie Buckley