The Machine That Keeps People From Plummeting to Their Deaths From Atop the Stratosphere

Of all the items on our “Things We Don’t Comprehend and Never Will” list, this one’s at the very top: People, lots of them, voluntarily leap from the top of The Stratosphere in Las Vegas.

SkyJump Las Vegas is marketed as a “thrill ride,” but it’s basically just falling. Downward. Rapidly. Toward the ground, one of the most consistently hard things to land on, ever.

SkyJump is wildly popular, though, so we ventured up into The Stratosphere’s tower to peek behind the scenes of all the plummeting “fun.” “Fun” in quotation marks, if you ask us.

The SkyJump control room. People be crazy.

The SkyJump control room. People be crazy.

SkyJump is a controlled free fall (unless that’s an oxymoron) from 108 floors up. Riders are given a fancy skydiver-style suit and a quick safety lesson.

Then, riders are connected to a high-speed “descender,” an imposing-looking contraption that has a wire spool on one end and a giant fan on the other.

The magical machine that stops your fall. Probably.

The magical machine that stops your fall. Probably.

Here’s a look at the descender in action.

Fan descenders were originally used for movie stunts, but now everyone can get in on the WTF. The fan descender was invented by stuntman Vic Armstrong for a movie called “Green Ice.”

Armstrong describes the fan descender this way, “It’s basically just a spindle in bearings that you wrap your wire around. On the end of the spindle are two fan blades that are attached to it. As you descend, the wire is pulled out and it spins the spindle and creates an air pressure. It’s pretty simple to put together, and it has very few moving parts.”

We're a big fan of watching other people do this. (Get it? Big fan. Oh, nevermind.)

We’re a big fan of watching other people do this. (See what we did there?)

However it works, SkyJump’s fan descender delivers the “Aieee!,” time after time.

SkyJump costs $109 a pop. And by “pop” we mean the sound your head will make if the safety lines fail for some reason. Kidding. SkyJump has been in operation in New Zealand for more than 10 years without injury.

See that little blue square? That the doorway to embracing the miracle that is gravity.

See that little blue square? That’s the doorway to embracing the miracle that is gravity.

If you’re crazy enough to jump again, the second time is $54.99 (on the same day, or if you buy a second ride when you’re purchasing your first).

Why would anyone jump out of a perfectly good phallic-shaped tower?

Why would anyone jump out of a perfectly good phallic-shaped tower?

SkyJump operates Sunday through Thursday, 10:00 a.m. to 1:00 a.m., and Friday and Saturday, 10:00 a.m. to 2:00 a.m.

The nearby Air Bar is available if you require some liquid courage. And you will.

There is not enough liquor on Earth to get us to SkyJump.

There is not enough liquor on Earth to get us to SkyJump.

By the way, if you chicken out after paying for your SkyJump leap of faith, you won’t get your money back. You will, however, get a “Chicken Out” voucher that you can give to someone else with more cojones.

Find out more about this entirely insane Las Vegas thrill attraction at the official SkyJump Las Vegas site.

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