Taking great risks for the enjoyment of others

A stuntman has died during a performance.

Chris Darnell, 40, was driving the “Shockwave Jet Truck” while racing two planes during the Field of Flight Airshow in Battle Creek. The truck, capable of reaching speeds of up to 300 MPH, crashed during the maneuver and flipped off the runway. Darnell died at the scene.

The Shockwave Jet Truck show is a family-run business that travels the nation performing at airshows and events. Chris’ father, Neal Darnell, is also a driver and pilot. He posted a note on the company’s Facebook page, “We are so sad. Just one month ago Chris turned 40. He was so well-loved by everyone who knew him. Chris so loved the air show business. He was living the dream’.”

There are some jobs that are necessarily dangerous but need to be done. But then there are people (tight rope walkers, trapeze artists, etc.) who enjoy doing things that put their lives at risk just for the entertainment of others. There must be something about risking death that they find exhilarating. There are also people who get vicarious pleasure from watching other people take risks. Hence it is inevitable that given the existence of an audience willing to pay to watch them, the risk takers have an incentive to take it up as a career and do it again and again, sometimes raising the risk level.

I am very risk-averse. I also do not enjoy watching other people take risks just for my enjoyment. Hence I never watch live performances of people who do such things. I did not like circuses as a child because I always worried about people falling from a height or getting attacked by ferocious animals, as sometimes happens. As a child, I wished to avoid the horror of seeing such a thing. As an adult, a new concern has been added. I feel that I would be complicit if such a tragedy should occur because without an audience, some of those people would not have done those things in the first place.


  1. brightmoon says

    You reminded me of why I hated westerns as a kid, . People continually getting shot and murdered . It was fake but seeing that was still upsetting. So this current toxic fixation with guns and scads of gun murders is nightmare inducing , mainly because it’s real

  2. brightmoon says

    I feel so sorry for the family . It’s so much worse if you see your family member die right in front of you

  3. TGAP Dad says

    This happened in Battle Creek, the town I was born in, and am quite familiar with. From what I know of the people there, is that this kind of entertainment is wildly popular. I was at a car race in nearby Kalamazoo where the finale event was a school bus, dangling from a crane, getting melted by a jet engine mounted on a truck. The crowds there always go wild for these things. Possession of a full set of teeth marks you as a highbrow on these crowds. While Michigan as a whole is a blue state, we have wide swaths that’d do Alabama and Texas proud, confederate battle flags and all.

  4. John Morales says

    Me, I’d rather take great risks for profit than for the enjoyment of others (though there’s nothing wrong with that).

    I reckon most stunt performers do exactly that.

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