took to world record-breaking in
2004 after being inspired by a record-setting rally
driver in Kenya. What began as a hobby soon escalated
into an active publicity pursuit. Today, he promotes the
work of social and environmental causes. For these
purposes, the most fitting game plans are chosen; then
world titles are attempted and frequently created.
Wall Street Journal:
Shaking On It in Times Square
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Most gambling machines dropped: 4
This is the story behind my world record for the Most gambling machines dropped.
I was one of a team who managed this world record
attempt for a charity whose work has an international focus. The plan
was to generate a strong and relevant statement, which we believed this
world record would definitely achieve.
The crowd chatted at the drop zone, a small hill
overlooking a flat-bottomed clay-lined pit. A 'test' drop had just been
done and it'd been logistically successful. With confidence, those
involved in the physical work then proceeded to get ready for the real
event. What might seem like a simple event – and indeed the action
lasted less than 10 seconds – was far from simplistic.
It had taken roughly a year of hard work to bring
the event about. I'd busied myself with securing the services of a
skilled helicopter pilot and dealing with his agent for required
permits, planned a list of duties with the materials engineer, and
worked endlessly on safety-related matters. Those assisting me had
spent weeks – if not months – working full-time on various event
management aspects that required attention. The outcome of our hard
labour was about to be seen.
While the small group of invitees waited
expectantly on the grassy knoll, surrounded by red barrier tape, the
materials engineer had stayed behind to wait for the helicopter to
return. He'd then affix the prepared bundle of gambling machines
underneath it, if the pilot and his crew felt the test had gone safely
enough for them to be confident of dropping the next load
satisfactorily. That was indeed the general opinion. The experienced
materials engineer got to work.
were trained on the drop zone. I
suspected the attempt would be on the news that night. To interrupt my
thoughts, returned the by then familiar sound of rotating blades
chopping into the air. Upon turning to see the helicopter, I felt
faint. My hands began to shake and a little sweat oozed from my face.
Four gambling machines were swaying from their anchor point under the
helicopter as it gradually approached. Wind had increased at the
helicopter's altitude and it seemed the pilot was having to fly
cautiously to manipulate the unusual load as needed. At one point, wind
blew the suspended load far out to one side of the helicopter. I heard
at least two people gasping. Their nerves were obviously frazzled like
mine. If that bulk dropped, or if the rope snapped, I would probably be
largely responsible. The thought of fatally wounded innocent people,
the dread of court cases, and the worry of damaged property flashed
through my mind. I began feeling even dizzier.
Holding my hand tightly over my mouth, I kept
both eyes fixed on the undulating airborne machines. My freedom from
post-event troubles was then directly dependent on whether an accident
occurred before the load was dropped. If my heart constantly beat at
the speed it then was, I would probably suffer a health issue before
long. But I wasn't to worry much longer because the helicopter arrived
directly over the pit without any problem. The gambling machines were
only a flick of a switch away from being annihilated, and everyone
present couldn't wait for that moment to come. Communication between
ground safety personnel and the pilot increased, and we all listened
intently to the crackling voice on the hand-held radio. The most
important moment of the day was imminent.
The pilot seemed to be trying repeatedly to
position the helicopter directly over the rectangular white target
which I'd pegged into the clay. But the wind was increasing. He was
finding it tricky to fix his position accurately with the influence of
the load. The safety consultant standing next to me assured me that all
was still within the bounds of safety for our permitted activity. After
what felt like several long minutes, the helicopter was hovering
motionless high in the sky. The pilot was ready, we heard, because his
voice burst through the consultant's hand-held radio.
Eerily, the load began to fall in silence. Every
person on the ground lifted their gaze. Some mouths dropped open in
amazement. We were witnessing a beautiful display of gentle twisting,
tumbling and speed; seemingly not really there. Like watching a film on
the big screen with the sound muted. Surreal.
The cruising machines entered an invisible lower
layer of air and all that changed in an instant. Bizarrely, the angle
of descent switched to a diagonal fall. The heavy-duty rope pulling the
machines together freed itself by its long, trailing tail. The four
machines shot away from one another like opposing magnets. Each smacked
into the hard surface a split second apart, producing a staggered thud,
thud-thud, thud. A flat but sharp clap rang out, much like a cracking
whip. Four shallow pits had been instantly carved out of the compacted
clay and the resultant mess stretched across much of the pit bottom. A
wave of noise ran up the pit walls and sped across the dumping grounds.
The impact was heard from neighbouring premises. That was to be
believed, since coloured glass, mangled aluminium, splintered plastic
and broken metal littered the pit. Going by the mess, the load must've
collided with the ground at terrific speed and with deadly force.
It was a job thoroughly done. I jumped up and
down with pent-up glee; with triumph. Nothing could have felt more
exhilarating. Nothing. We shook hands, laughed and patted one another
on the back. Every single person involved deserved a medal, I thought.
If only I'd had a gold coin to gift them all. But, alas that wasn't
possible, although I did get a chance to thank each person and company
individually at a celebratory lunch held at the offices later on. But I
was not satisfied. I wanted to do more. These people had made a great
effort to stand up for what they believed in. What happened next,
though, satisfied me immensely.
This world record was on that evening's TV news.
The story was distributed to media agencies via the internet. The
achievement was acknowledged by the world record system and it
significantly raised the profile of the charity. I kept receiving
positive feedback on the community impact it was having in a number of
nations. And do you know what? More than the actual world record, my
deepest pleasure came from knowing I had done the right thing for
communities, wherever they may be.