I’ll never forget the first time Dar and I flew up to the CN Tower. When we went to the foot of the Tower, I looked up at it. I could not believe how high it was. We were escorted by one of the Tower’s employees to the main tower elevator. It was the longest elevator ride I have ever had in my life. It seemed like an eternity. When we finally made it to the top we opened up a hatch to get to the outside. The wind actually shoved me backwards. It was raining lightning and windy I was scared to death. There was a 4-ft. walkway around the top of the tower. Because of the wind we were on our hands and knees to make our way. I hollered at Dar “What the heck are we doing up here?” Dar replied “Don’t worry Ky, it’ll be better on the other side, we’re on the windy side right now.” “Wind? Heck, I’m more worried about the lightening!” When we finally made it to the other side I took some measurements for the platform that we would have to install there to mount our descender on and to stand on. I cannot tell you how relieved I was to come down from my that first trip to the top.
I could not sleep that night. To be honest I was scared to even go back up on that tower. The next day our crew started arriving and we started building the platform that would hold our ‘decelerator’ and which Dar would need to jump from. Two days later we were ready to install the equipment on the tower. Before we started to test our equipment, I decided to throw a water balloon off the top of the tower to see what would happen to that. The balloon went about halfway down and hit the side of the tower. I did this several times and every time the balloon splattered on the side of the building! This was a major problem.
I went down to the base of the tower and looked up. I saw that the base of the building actually flared out towards the bottom. This caused a vortex or a ‘tornado’ effect with swirling very unstable winds. We set up some equipment to measure what the wind was doing at different levels. We found out that the winds were doing different things at every level up the tower.
We spent two more days of testing trying to figure out the solution to how we would deal with this problem. Dar called Alan Lansburg. He really wanted to tell Alan that we could not do the stunt. We had already taken up too much of our short supply of time. After Dar told Alan about the problems, Alan said “Great, shoot all the footage you can, this will all make the stunt more dramatic.” At that point Dar did not have the heart to tell Alan he just couldn’t do the stunt. We all went nervously back to the ‘drawing board’. I decided to eliminate the gearbox idea and install two ‘manual’ disk brakes. What our game plan was now was that we would have someone look over the side of the tower from the top and if Dar was going to hit the building our spotter would holler ‘KY’ and I would slowly as possible hit the brakes. We built a ‘dummy’ equaling Dar’s weight for a test drop. The first time we dropped the dummy I had a very hard time breaking the weight before it hit the ground so I had to add extensions to the brake arms for better leverage on the disk braking system.
I will never forget the day we were in the CN Tower operation center checking wind speed at various levels of the tower. The winds were as high as 60 MPH so we decided there would be no more testing for the day as we were where standing there some one said I’m sure thirsty. So I walked over to the vending machine and bought 4 cans of Diet Pepsi I was standing there talking to a couple of security garueds when I open my Diet Pepsi and took a big drink all of a sudden I had something in my mouth that tasted horrible I spit it out in my hand in front of the gaurds.much to my surprise and ever one else It was a hairy little partly decomposed mouse to be honest I saw dollar signs in my eyes. One of the production members called the Canada Pepsi Company and they said they were sorry and they would send a free case of Pepsi over right away. Gee for some reason I was not in the mood for another Pepsi.
The day, before the actual jump, Cathy Lee Crosby came to the site. We took her up to the platform and she was scared to death. But never the less she walked to where Dar was going to jump. Cathy Lee interviewed me for the show. She asked me what I thought of the stunt I told her it was crazy real crazy. I went on to say I was real worried about the stunt. And that if I pulled the brakes to hard I would break the cable. If I didn’t pull the brakes soon enofe Dar would hit the ground. Cathy Lee said in other words Dars life is in your hands. Boy did that get my attention when she said that. When Cathy Lee asked Dar about me he said I was his emagineneer he went on to say he would think of something and Ky would engineer it. Dar showed a lot of respect for me and gave me a lot of credit for his accomplishments in return I had a lot of respect for Dar.
We actually had a couple of cameramen who refused to work up on the tower. There airplanes flying past our location that we were looking ‘down’ on. Cars on the street looked like small toys. The wind was always so strong that the tower was swaying constantly. It was a test of courage even to stand at the top of the tower. The night before the stunt was to be performed Cathy Lee interviewed Dar up on the actual platform. I could tell that Dar was not confident and was actually scared. I had never seen that on his face before and it scared me. After the interview Cathy Lee invited Dar out for a steak dinner. I could not believe it when he said, “No thank you, I want to go to my room and just rest.” That was not like Dar at all.
A couple hours later Dar called me up to his room and told me to sit down. We were both just quiet for a long time. I was waiting for him to say something and he was waiting for me to talk. Finally Dar said, “What do you think about this stunt Ky?” I said, “Dar, I think it will be O.K., we’ve tested it so much that we’ve almost worn out the equipment. Tomorrow I’m going to put the new cable on and test it one time.” (You always test a new cable because it could have an unseen flaw in it.) Dar got quiet again. Examining Dar’s face I said “Dar, if you don’t want to do this stunt, I will sneak up there tonight and unbolt everything and throw it over the side.” Dar said “You would do that for me?” I said, “Dar, you are my best friend in the world. Maybe we should just see how you feel about it all tomorrow.”
The next morning the crew got up early, installed the new cable and we did the drop test. I went down to be with Dar to help him with his harness and make sure that we had the right balance point on his body to hook the cable to. Dar did not say one word, he talked to nobody.