Felix Baumgartner's supersonic space jump has been fascinating theater. Millions watched the real-time coverage. His freefall speed reached 833.9 mph or, for those who prefer the snazzier definition, Mach 1.24.

The intrigue of possibly seeing a live death might sound ghoulish, but it's undeniably part of the appeal. Perhaps this is why mankind continues to discover new ways to experience the rush of life while tempting or even taunting death.

Here are some notable examples, starting with Baumgartner:

Most Death-Defying Stunts Slideshow


Felix Baumgartner

The 43-year-old skydiver from Austria began his descent 128,100 feet (or 24 miles) above New Mexico. The previous record of 102,800 feet, set by Joseph Kittinger, had stood since 1960.


Philippe Petit

In 1974, Petit walked on a wire between the Twin Towers at the World Trade Center in New York for 45 minutes. Petit was 24 at the time, and he posed as a journalist to get access to the building, which hadn't been open to the public yet.


Nik Wallenda

A descendant of the legendary Flying Wallendas circus clan, Nik walked over Niagara Falls on a wire in June. He was 200 feet above the falls and covered 1,800 feet in his walk.


Jackie Chan

Chan is usually referred to as the biggest movie star who does his own stunts. Sliding down a building in "Who Am I?" is among his most impressive efforts. Click here for video.


Evel Knievel

Knievel has an entire catalog of stunts but perhaps the most famous was his attempted motorycycle jump of the Snake River Canyon in Idaho in 1974. He fell short but emerged with just minor injuries.


Robbie Kneviel

The son of Evel Knievel covered 228 feet in his motorcycle jump at the Grand Canyon in 1999. He sustained a broken leg from the crash landing.


Alain Robert

Known as the French Spider-Man, Robert climbed a 2,717-foot building in Dubai. It was a legal climb, unlike some of his previous adventures such as scaling Petronas Towers (1,483 feet) in Kuala Lumpur.


Yves Rossy

In 2008, Rossy flew over the Alps with a jet pack on his back. His top speed was nearly 190 mph.


David Smith Jr.

According to his website, Smith "has performed more than 5000 cannon shots around the world." Smith set the distance record in 2011 at 193 feet and 8 inches, breaking the previous mark of 185 feet set by his father


Harry Houdini

Among the zanier of Houdini's many tricks is the Water Torture Cell. Houdini was bound and lowered upside-down into a water-filled container. The top was then locked.

previous next

Follow us on Facebook and Twitter to read them first!