But that’s what TJ Austin ran into this past New Year’s Eve when the Las Vegas city fathers put the brakes on his planned stunt to leap his specially built bike over a 747 airliner in front of what would have been a massive crowd along the Las Vegas Strip.
Rumor has it that the powers that be in Vegas decided they couldn’t provide enough police protection and crowd control for the stunt on that particular night of the year. Admittedly, that makes some sense. The drunken revelry of New Year’s Eve can be a nightmare for any local constabulary. You can safely multiply those law enforcement challenges a hundred fold in Sin City come December 31. So, the desert bigwigs decided they couldn’t man the Strip from Tropicana to Spring Mountain with ample badges while providing security for Austin’s leap of death.
That doesn’t mean the stuntman turned actor doesn’t want to try again. While he’s playing scenes and pulling stunts in everything from movies like G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra to TV series like Numb3rs,
We caught up to Austin during a promotional event for Liquid Image, the video goggle manufacturer. The next time Austin leaps his motorcycle over something, he’ll be wearing Liquid Image equipment to capture every death defying moment.
Crave Online: You didn’t get a chance to do your New Year’s Eve jump. How would it have been set up?
T.J. Austin: We designed it so there’d be a platform built over the tail of a 747. I would have jumped from that height down over the length of the plane and landed past its nose. We had the motorcycle specially strengthened and reenforced to withstand the landing. As I landed the jump, we had pyrotechnics ready as part of the show.
I was disappointed we didn’t get an chance to do it. We put a lot of work into the planning. We thought it was a go right up until the zero hour – right up to the last minute. We fought to keep it on, but we couldn’t change their minds.
Crave Online: Are you still hoping to pull off the same jump in Las Vegas or anywhere else?
T.J. Austin: We’re hoping to put the jump back together in Las Vegas for later this year – maybe the 4th of July. We’re in negotiations now to pull it off. It takes time. The jump would work like it would’ve on New Year’s Eve.
Crave Online: What keeps you going to pull off stunts like this? You’re acting now. You do your movie and TV stunt work. You could be rich and a hell of a lot safer sticking to that work as opposed to jumping over jets. Why keep at the major stunt events when the world around you seems to be telling you to stop?
T.J. Austin: I think because there are so few men still doing these kinds of stunts. I’ve had conversations with (fellow bike stunt jumper) Robbie Knievel, and I think he considers me his only competition for events like this. I want to keep doing these kinds of stunts to keep the show alive with so few men still willing to take these risks for the fans.
Photo Credit: Rachel Worth / WENN.com