Being surrounded by world-class base jumpers, sky divers and paragliders is just a day on the job For Brigham Dallas, but designing a world record breaking water blob is pretty new for him.
While getting his business degree at BYU, Dallas decided to take some time to visit Asia. After a four-day trek to Mount Bromo, a beautiful volcano at the heart of Indonesia, he met a wealthy businessman who gave him some food for thought: either sell to the rich or sell to the poor, but keep in mind the rich are easier.
Dallas, a Fort Mill, S.C. native and at just 25 years old already owns two companies, took this advice to heart as he went back to finish his business degree and start yet another company: Fat Boys.
“If a fat boy can jump on it, anyone can jump on it,” Dallas said, to explain why he named his water launcher and water trampoline company Fat Boys. The name did so well in Europe and Australia that he even sold one to the prince of Dubai. The U.S. market, however, was a little harder to break into, that is until February.
“In February I got approached by John Garrett, a professional stuntman, who told me he wanted to jump out of a motorized paraglider onto a water blob from 60 or so feet in the air and break a world record for the highest water launch pad catapult.” Dallas said, referring to a record set in 2011 by the Swedes at 67 feet. “Out of all the companies Garrett approached, I was the most willing, so we got started.”
The water blob is shaped similarly to a yellow and red 35-foot-long peanut created with a bottleneck in order to increase airflow. On one side of the blob is a single black circular target and on the other is a cushiony bottom end where a person lays and waits to be catapulted.
Garrett belongs to an organization called I-Go Big, a stuntman organization for charity, which wanted to use this record-breaking event which took place last week in Twin Falls to benefit tornado-devastated schools in Moore, Okla. The only problem was creating a water blob that could handle an athlete being dropped without popping. The athlete must attempt to hit a one meter target, which would result in catapulting a person on the other end of the blob high into the air.
Luckily, Dallas’ past roommate and friend, Manil Poudyal from Nepal, was willing to help create such a blob. Dallas and Poudyal had previously worked together on figuring out how to increase the bounce of the company’s water trampolines, so the two were excited to have a new project.
Poudyal, a mechanical engineering master’s student, said, “He told me about what it would take to break the world record, and we started to redesign his water blob. It was all his idea, but with my background in engineering I was able to say what would and wouldn’t work, as well as suggest principles to help compress the air molecules.”
All the stuntmen need to do is fall onto an air-filled water blob, displacing the air and causing an awaiting person to be catapulted off the other end. Simple, right? Not quite.
The second attempt to break the record involved two stuntmen in helmets and other safety gear jumping from nearby cliffs while another waited on the blob below. At impact, the waiting individual was launched up into the air, hitting the water at the same speed he was launched. This often caused large bruises and other small injuries, but ones that participants said were well worth it.
“I’ve done a lot of crazy things, but this was by far one of the coolest,” Garrett said.
The Swedes previous 67-foot world record was accomplished by three men jumping off an eight-meter platform, launching stuntmen into the air. On their first attempt to break the record, Fat Boys and I-Go Big took a different approach.
“What we did was drop only one man from a paraglider onto a water launch pad and we were able to send a stuntman approximately 53 feet into the air,” Dallas said. “We didn’t break the record, but we did awesome, considering.”
But their second attempt in Twin Falls, the only legal base jumping location in the U.S., the team used a different method that broke the record.
Dallas said, “The blob was working too well, two guys, combined weight about 435, jumped from a cliff and launched a full-grown man 82 feet in the air. We broke the record with just two men. It was great.”
The two events have raised over $10,000 in donations so far, and donations are still being accepted to help Moore, Okla., at Rockethub.com, click on splash-a-thon.