Steve Truglia at TEDGlobal 2009: Running notes from Session 2

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Before we even see Steve Truglia on stage, we’re treated to an action-packed video of his stunts for movie and television, as well as his personal record-breaking, daredevil stunts. There are explosions, car crashes and high falls out of buildings. Truglia is being set on fire, fencing, driving a car through a loop de loop, bursting through walls and skydiving.

He bursts onto the stage, saying that he’s extremely excited to talk about what he considers to be the biggest stunt on earth. He plans to jump from the edge of space. But before he talks about that, he wants to show us how technology has started to interface with the physical skills of the stunt performer.

He runs more clips, this time personally narrating the history of the stunt and pointing out the great risks they took in the early days. But now, technology has provided air ramps that will fire you anywhere from five to 30 feet, new types of padding that allow you to be run over by a car with minimal discomfort, and compressed nitrogen to flip lorries, coaches and almost anything else over. He also pays tribute to the magic of the green screen.

Suddenly, he’s on to Project Space Jump. He plans to jump from 120,000 feet. You’re in a near vacuum at that height, he says, so you need to be in a space suit. No aircraft will fly at that height, so he’s going up in a gas balloon. He needs two balloons for each of his test jumps and also for the main jump, because they’re known to tear. At 100,000 feet, without a suit, your blood actually boils and it’s called vaporization. He notes that that’s probably not very fun. We agree. His mission still needs a major sponsor but he’s confident they’ll find one.