I am the greatest daredevil in the world,” says 29-year-old Rick Rojatt of Montreal, who likes to hide behind the anonymous billing of “The Human Fly.” The evidence to support his claim is impressive.
In a red mask and white cape, Rojatt recently was hoisted by crane to the top of a DC-8 at the Mojave, Calif. airport. Three assistants strapped his legs and chest onto a steel brace secured by cables to the four-engine jet. As the plane thundered into the sky, Rojatt thrust out a clenched fist.
“He’s got to be kooky,” gasped one spectator. But after two passes at 250 mph, the Human Fly returned to earth triumphant. His only problem was a helmet visor that popped up during a dive, exposing his eyes to the wind. “He did a lot of squinting,” said the pilot, Clay Lacy, who watched the Fly on closed-circuit TV.
Rojatt repeated his stunt the next day, asking, “What reason would I have to be afraid?” To withstand the 3,000 pounds of air pressure at takeoff, he wears a helmet, a steel-reinforced jumpsuit and a metal chest plate. He breathes through oxygen tubes in his nose and mouth.
Rojatt, a Canadian, says he once was a Hollywood stunt man—although the California union has no record of him. He also says he was in an auto accident in North Carolina six years ago which killed his wife and 4-year-old daughter and badly injured him. He had 38 operations in four years, he says, which allowed him to walk again but left him with a body that is “60 percent steel parts.” He says he conditions himself by rising at 3 a.m., running six miles and then plunging into a bathtub full of ice cubes.
Rojatt plans three more spectacular stunts. Next May he wants to jump 22 miles in a special sky cycle across the English Channel from France to England. Then he will plunge 1,800 feet off Toronto’s CN Tower into a 20-foot-square tank of water. Finally, he hopes to catapult 29,028 feet over Mount Everest in a sky cycle. (But why? His manager replies: “The motive is to make money.”)
“Frankly, I’m not worried about death,” says the Fly. “I don’t have a death wish. I have a life wish.”