We live in a world where bets have been reduced to drunken frat-boy shenanigans that usually end in a stupid YouTube video of someone clutching his balls in pain. But, it wasn't always like this. Back in the day, wagers were an art form dominated by badass, crazy motherfuckers ready to risk their lives in the suicide-est stunts imaginable, all because someone bet them that they couldn't do it. For example ...
6Man Steals A Plane And Flies It Back To A Bar (Twice) To Win A Drunken Argument
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In the early hours of September 30, 1956, licensed pilot Thomas Fitzpatrick was drinking heavily in a Manhattan bar when a patron challenged the man's claim that a flight from New Jersey to Manhattan would take 15 minutes. At the risk of being labeled a liar/sane person, Fitzpatrick decided to go out there and prove Random Shit-Talker McGee wrong.
AP via Spokane Daily Chronicle
Probably calling him a "fecking arsehole" on his way out, judging by this picture.
With a blood alcohol level somewhere around "Oktoberfest," the pilot got into his car and drove out to an airfield in New Jersey. If you think that it was irresponsible of him to be driving in his state, then you're really not going to like this next bit. After stealing a single-engine airplane, the still-shitfaced Fitzpatrick flew the craft back to the city and landed it outside the bar just in time for last orders.
The police didn't exactly buy his story that he "suffered *hic* engine *hic* trouble," but they did note that it was a "100,000 to 1" shot that he didn't hit any of the buildings on his way down. In the end, the cops fined Fitzpatrick only $100 after the plane's owner decided not to press any charges, and that was that ... for about two years. In 1958, bar patron Assface McGee (no relation) straight-up called Fitzpatrick a liar when he brought up the whole "Yeah, I landed a plane outside" thing. Suddenly, it was on like Donkey Kong ... 2.
John Muravcki/The New York Times
"You fecking arsehole."
Once more, Fitzpatrick drove out to New Jersey, stole another plane, and landed it smack-dab in the middle of Manhattan. However, this time, he was sentenced to six months in jail, presumably in solitary confinement out of fear that some prisoner would bet him that he couldn't break out of there. And while we're on the subject of great pilots with drinking problems ...
5Colonel Duckworth Flew Into An Actual Hurricane For A Drink
There are two types of people in the world. The first type sees a gigantic, God's-fart-level hurricane like this ...
... and immediately starts running from it. The second type jumps into a plane and goes flying right into the demonic core to punch the hurricane in the dick, all for the promise of whiskey and club soda. Colonel Joe Duckworth belonged to the second group.
Mr. Rogers' looks, Steve Rogers' balls.
In 1943, Duckworth was training together with British flying aces who had little respect for the ex-commercial-pilot-turned-flight-instructor, though they mostly kept it to cracking a few jokes at his expense due to their terminal Britishness.
The day Joe Duckworth decided he had enough was when Texas was hit by a massive hurricane on July 27. The British aces laughed seeing Duckworth's planes (AT-6 Texans) being taken away for safety reasons, to which the instructor said that his planes were badass enough to survive flying straight through Mother Nature's continent-leveling hissy fit. The Englishmen took that bet, wagering a highball as the prize.
"That second plane? My testicles have their own pilot's license."
Duckworth grabbed a flight navigator unlucky enough to be closest to him at that moment (Lieutenant Ralph O'Hair) and set off without official permission. Duckworth approached the hurricane at an altitude of 4,000-9,000 feet while turbulence shook the plane like a "stick in a dog's mouth." Finally, he broke through into the storm's calm, 10-mile-long eye and circled that bastard a couple of times.
He then got back, let O'Hair out, and took another passenger (the base's weather officer) on Uncle Joe's Krazy Twister, flying through the goddamn hurricane a second time, thus winning him the Brits' respect and a well-deserved highball.