Whether it's spending part your of New Year's Eve waiting for Travis Pastrana to jump a rally car, or watching a man skydive from the stratosphere, we've gotten used to seeing crazy stunts happen live. That's part of why the insane jetpacks over Dubai video took everyone's breath away last month — it was filmed mostly in secret, so almost no one saw it coming. Red Bull just pulled a similar trick: Paul Bonhomme and Steve Jones became the first in the world to fly stunt planes through a building in formation.
Bonhomme and Jones threaded the proverbial needle through an open hanger in North Wales while flying 185mph (160 knots) only a meter off the ground. Other pilots — like Jones himself and even a few amateurs — have pulled off similar feats, but it's always done solo and they typically fly under bridges, which afford much more leeway. Doing it in formation through a tiny hangar, inches away from another pilot whose nerves are similarly racked, is basically unheard of. Add in the fact that you're taking pilots who are used to working in three dimensions and only offering them two, with no real escape plan, and you have one hell of a stunt.
The duo flew just a few feet off the ground at 185mph
The aerobatics team call themselves The Matadors, a not-so-subtle nod to their ability to elude death despite its constant presence at arm's length. Most of their stunts happen hundreds of feet in the air, but that apparently wasn't dangerous enough for the duo, who say they have been spent years wondering if they or anyone could pull of such a crazy idea.
The whole stunt was orchestrated and sponsored by Red Bull, in part to promote the Red Bull Air Race (which I experienced up close and personal last year, and returns to the United States in September). And when Red Bull sponsors a stunt, it goes all out on the digital media; in addition to the video above there's another one from the pilots' POVs, an interactive GIF, and a 360-degree video:
There's also a deep dive behind the scenes, an extended cut, and an exploration of the psychological effects of the stunt by a professor of psychology, because no one ever said the life of a matador was easy.