Skycycle X-2

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Skycycle X-2
Rocket with front end tilted upwards and a flight suit in front of it
Evel Knievel's X-2-2 Skycycle on display
at the Harley-Davidson Museum in 2010
Role Stunt aircraft
Manufacturer Robert Truax
Designer Douglas Malewicki
First flight August 25, 1974
Retired September 8, 1974
Primary user Evel Knievel
Produced 1974
Number built 3

The Skycycle X-2 was a steam-powered rocket owned by Evel Knievel and flown during his Snake River Canyon jump in Idaho in 1974.

An earlier prototype, the Skycycle X-1 designed by Doug Malewicki and retired U.S. Navy engineer Robert Truax, superficially resembled a motorcycle. It was tested in November 1973 and dove in the Snake River.[1]

The Skycycle X-2 was designed by Truax,[2] and ridden by Knievel in his attempt to jump the Snake River approximately 1 mile (1.6 km) west of Shoshone Falls near the city of Twin Falls, Idaho, on September 8, 1974.[3][4][5][6][7][8] The parachute deployed during the launch, causing the stunt to fail.[9]

A later analysis showed that a design flaw in a mechanical parachute retention cover, which did not properly take base drag into account, caused the premature parachute deployment. Following the failed jump, Truax blamed Knievel for the failure and vice versa. Later, Truax accepted full responsibility for the failure.[10][11]

The jump[edit]

Although the parachute deployed early, the aerial photographs show the X-2 cleared the canyon. However, the winds blew the rocket back to launch side, crashing at the bottom of the canyon, barely missing the river. Knievel stated that if the X-2 had landed in the water, he would have drowned, as he did not have the ability to release himself from the harness.[12]

In order to obtain permission from the State of Idaho to perform the canyon jump, the X-2 was registered as an airplane rather than a motorcycle.[13]

Three Skycycle X-2s were built for Knievel.[14][15] The first two were used for test flights.[16] Unable to fund further tests, Knievel used the third for the canyon jump. In 2007, the Skycycle X-2-1 was offered for sale for $5 million.[17] The X-2-2 is owned by the Knievel estate and periodically exhibited along with a museum of Knievel artifacts.

In the era before cable networks, the Sunday afternoon jump was covered live by Top Rank on paid closed circuit television in several hundred theaters and arenas,[18][19][20] promoted by Bob Arum with an average price of ten dollars.[16][21][22] Taped coverage by ABC was shown on Wide World of Sports later in the month.[23][24] The ticket price at the launch site was twenty-five dollars.[5][6][7]

The jump was pushed out of the newspaper headlines by the pardon of Richard Nixon by President Gerald Ford.[25][26]


Monument near the Perrine Bridge

A memorial to Knievel is located near the Perrine Bridge,[27] which crosses the Snake River about 1.6 miles (2.6 km) west of the jump site. The monument was dedicated in September 1985, at a small ceremony attended by Knievel.[28]

Re-creation of the jump[edit]

Since the 1974 launch, seven daredevils have expressed interest in recreating the jump, including Knievel's two sons Robbie and Kelly. Robbie announced he would recreate the jump in 2010.[29] Stuntman Eddie Braun worked with Kelly and Robert Truax's son to recreate the jump using a replica of the Skycycle X-2.[30] He successfully flew his rocket, named Evel Spirit, across the Snake River Canyon on September 16, 2016.[31]

Audi commercial[edit]

On July 18, 2012, Audi of America recreated Knievel's Snake River jump in a promotional commercial for the Audi RS5. The commercial depicts the RS5 being driven by a professional driver and jumping the canyon off a jump ramp.[32]

Each time I was hurt, they all said, ‘that guy is lucky that he’s not dead.' And they were right. But I wanted to get up and try it again.

— Evel Knievel, 2012 Audi commercial[33]

See also[edit]

Aircraft with the same name:



  1. ^ Levin, Dan (November 19, 1973). "High-jumping to a conclusion". Sports Illustrated. p. 40.
  2. ^ Jones, Robert F. (September 2, 1974). "Make it or break it". Sports Illustrated. p. 52.
  3. ^ "Jump fails, but Knievel uninjured". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. '(New York Times)'. September 9, 1974. p. 1.
  4. ^ Jones, Robert F. (September 16, 1974). "'We shoulda run one more test'". Sports Illustrated. p. 26.
  5. ^ a b Sellard, Dan (September 9, 1974). "Evel Knievel's leap at canyon ends in draw". Eugene Register-Guard. Oregon. p. 1B.
  6. ^ a b Miller, Hack (September 9, 1974). "Evel puzzle: what popped chute?". Deseret News. Salt Lake City, Utah. p. 1C.
  7. ^ a b "Evel fails in mission...but survives". Sarasota Herald-Tribune. Florida. Associated Press. September 9, 1974. p. 1C.
  8. ^ "Twin Falls marks Knievel anniversary". Lewiston Sun Journal. Maine. Associated Press. September 10, 1984. p. 17.
  9. ^ Evel Knievel's X-1 Skycycle, rocket powered CANYON JUMPING motorcycle!
  10. ^ "Knievel rescued after failure". Milwaukee Sentinel. Associated Press. September 9, 1974. p. 1, part 1.
  11. ^ "Metal fatigue blamed". The Bulletin. Bend, Oregon. Associated Press. September 9, 1974. p. 1.
  12. ^ Stuart Barker, Life of Evel Knievel, St. Martin's Press, 2008.
  13. ^ Stuart Barker, Life of Evel Knievel, St. Martin's Press, 2008.
  14. ^
  15. ^ Absolute Evel: The Evel Knievel Story, History Channel 2005
  16. ^ a b "Evel Knievel canyon leap today". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. September 8, 1974. p. 16.
  17. ^ Evel Knievel Skycycle Snake River Rocket For Sale
  18. ^ "Is he an athlete, daredevil, promoter, hoax, or a nut?". Spartanburg Herald. South Carolina. Associated Press. June 25, 1974. p. B2.
  19. ^ "Congressman says Evel bad influence on kids". Spokesman-Review. Spokane, Washington. Associated Press. September 4, 1974. p. 2.
  20. ^ "Snake River Canyon Jump". Chicago Tribune. (advertisement). September 6, 1974. p. 2, section 3.
  21. ^ Crittenden, John (September 7, 1974). "Thundering herd hoofing to some Evel". St. Petersburg Independent. Florida. Miami News. p. 2C.
  22. ^ "Evel Knievel's Snake River Canyon Jump". Milwaukee Journal. (advertisement). September 5, 1974. p. 11, part 2.
  23. ^ Sharbutt, Jay (August 29, 1974). "No live TV for Evel Knievel's jump". Free Lance-Star. Fredericksburg, Virginia. Associated Press. p. 23.
  24. ^ "Canyon jump launched generation of daredevils". Moscow-Pullman Daily News. Idaho-Washington. Associated Press. September 4, 1999. p. 4B.
  25. ^ Squires, Jim (September 9, 1974). "Pardon for Nixon". Chicago Tribune. p. 1, section 1.
  26. ^ "Ford pardons Nixon". Milwaukee Sentinel. wire services. September 9, 1974. p. 1, part 1.
  27. ^ "Evel Knievel's Snake River Jump Monument". Retrieved August 12, 2017.
  28. ^ "No crowds attracted by dedication of monument to Snake River jump". Great Falls Tribune. Great Falls, Montana. AP. September 10, 1985. Retrieved August 12, 2017 – via
  29. ^ "Robbie Knievel hopes to jump Snake River Canyon". Billings Gazette. AP. May 9, 2010.
  30. ^ Martin, Joey (September 8, 2014). "40 Years Later And Gearing Up For Another Jump". Archived from the original on September 11, 2014.
  31. ^ Loumena, Dan (September 16, 2016). "Eddie Braun does what Evel Knievel could not: make successful jump over Snake River Canyon". Los Angeles Times.
  32. ^ Harbor, Phillip, "Audi Tries to Jump Snake River Canyon in Evel Knievel Tribute", CarBuzz, September 12, 2012
  33. ^ "Audi: 'Return to Snake River Canyon'". AudideMexico. September 24, 2012 – via YouTube.

External links[edit]