David was chained and padlocked and handcuffed into the most extreme rollercoaster in the UK, the Infusion ride at Blackpool Pleasure Beach. The escape had come about as a challenge from master locksmith Mick Hanzlik, a Houdini expert and escape enthusiast who runs his own locksmithing company in Northampton, UK.
Before I write a review of the escape, there is a little back story I need to go through In 1984, the English escape artist David Deval was challenged to escape from the ‘Revolution’ rollercoaster at Blackpool pleasure beach by Mick Hanzlik and Blackpool based magician Derek Lever. A challenge he gladly took on and succeeded in.
The original stunt was filmed for the popular BBC entertainment programme, Hotline. This escape can be seen on youtube here.
Going forward 20 years, David had been asked to perform a stunt by the pleasure beach. A few months earlier, David had received an email from Mick Hanzlik, whom he had briefly chatted to at an escapology convention. The email was to ask if David might be interested in taking on a challenge at some point. Having been a fan of Mr Deval, who died suddenly in 2002, David asked Mick Hanzlik if he would be willing to put him through a similar challenge, which Mick agreed to.
The escape attempt had to be carried out early in the day, before the park was open to the public, due to concerns about padlocks and handcuffs coming loose and causing injury. The challenge rules, which were set by Mick Hanzlik, were as follows:
- David will be locked into a variety of handcuffs and padlocks, to be chosen and supplied by the challenger. These would in turn be locked onto David, and then onto the ride itself.
- David will not be permitted to see any of the restraints until the actual escape itself.
- David will be permitted to take a maximum of three lock picks with him on the ride.
- Mick Hanzlik could, at any time, search David for hidden picks, tools etc.
- David may only attempt to escape while the ride is in motion.
- There will be no time limit, however, David must effect the escape himself with no outside help.
- If David wishes any or all of the restraints to be released, at any time, he must first admit defeat, and end the attempt.
On Friday, October 19th at 9am, with a great media turn out, David was chained to the parks newest and most extreme thrill ride, Infusion. To attempt an escape whilst travelling at speeds of up to 80kph and experiencing forces in excess of +4.5Gs. Infusion is the world’s first suspended looping coaster completely over water, and has a total of five loops and rolls.
Using three pairs of handcuffs, two padlocks, including a complex and difficult combination lock, a short length of chain and a heavy Eastern European prisoner transport belt, Mick attached the escape artist to the ride. Before restraining him though, Mick had a little surprise up his sleeve, a full search, which included a careful check with an airport metal detector.
After a brief final word with the press, the ride was in motion. After three turns on the ride (a total of approximately four minutes of escape time), David was free of all the restraints.
“I had hoped to complete the escape in one, perhaps two goes around the track, but the challenger had brought some tricky locks with him, the worst of these being the combination lock, which was a nasty surprise and a very clever move by the challenger. These locks require great care and a delicate touch to defeat. A delicate touch is very hard to achieve on a 80kph ride, especially while being thrown in all directions at high G-Forces.
Another big issue was handling the lock picks. Infusion is an exciting ride, and a lot of fun, but it can be quite rough in places. You wouldn’t notice if you were riding it for fun, but you certainly would if you ever tried to pick locks while riding it. It took me half a go around just to get the pick in the first keyhole, every time I almost got it there the ride would turn sharply, and knock my hand away. In total I had eight locks to pick, and am pleased to have managed this in such a short time. It was quite a challenge, but possibly the most fun I have ever had while attempting an escape!”
After the escape was over David had a short press conference, some one on one newspaper interviews, and a radio interview before he was free to enjoy a day by the seaside. David was also very impressed with the skills and knowledge of the challenger, so much so that he asked if he would be willing to act as advisor for David’s upcoming TV special, which is currently in production.
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