Category:
World Records

Mr. Plastic Fantastic

Walter Cavanagh's hobby is collecting active credit cards issued in his name. Which is to say that he's not interested in collecting the cards themselves, as a typical credit card collector might be (such as a member of the American Credit Card Collectors Society). Cavanagh's collection consists entirely of cards that he could use to buy something.

By the mid-1970s, when the media first got wind of him (and dubbed him 'Mr. Plastic Fantastic'), he had already acquired 788 cards, giving him available credit of $750,000.

By 2016, in the most recent update about him that I could find, his collection was up to 1,497 cards, giving him available credit of $1.7 million.

However, he never taps into this credit. He uses only one card, and he always pays off the balance in full each month.

Los Angeles Times - Feb 1, 1976



But how does he keep getting companies to send him new cards? Wouldn't companies see the huge amount of credit already available to him and deny his application? Apparently not. Cavanagh reports that he's hardly ever had an application denied.

According to the Next Gen Personal Finance blog, this shouldn't be surprising. Both his payment and credit history are long and positive. Also:

he has $1.7 million in available credit and since he is only using one card, his utilization rate (credit used divided by total credit) is probably less than 1% or way below the 30% that is the generally accepted figure that you want to be below.

So companies keep sending him new cards.

Posted By: Alex - Tue May 10, 2022 - Comments (8)
Category: Money, World Records, Collectors

Around the world on a unicycle

From All Hands: The Bureau of Naval Personnel Career Publication - July 1969:

First man to unicycle "around the world": Lieutenant John E. Mander of Antarctic Development Squadron Six. The squadron says LT Mander did it by riding his one-wheeler in a circle around the geographic South Pole at the U.S. Amundsen-Scott Pole Station.

Posted By: Alex - Sun Feb 27, 2022 - Comments (5)
Category: Bicycles and Other Human-powered Vehicles, World Records

Longest fall without a parachute

We've recently had a couple of posts about people surviving long falls. So this post (originally from Jan 2021) seemed relevant.

On January 26, 1972, stewardess Vesna Vulovic was working on a Yugoslav Airlines flight when a bomb blew up the plane. She fell 31,000 feet and miraculously survived. No one else on the flight did. She eventually made a near-full recovery and went back to work at the airline, though not as a stewardess. She died in 2016. To this day, she maintains the world record for having made the longest fall without a parachute.

Pittsburgh Press - Jan 29, 1972



Vesna Vulovic. Source: wikipedia



Vulovic is part of a small group of human marvels who have survived very long falls. Another member of this group is English tail gunner Nicholas Alkemade who, in 1944, survived a fall of 18,000 feet out of a Lancaster bomber.

The question of how people are able to survive very-high falls has attracted some scientific interest. The most famous study on this topic, that I'm aware of, was published by Hugh De Haven in 1942: "Mechanical analysis of survival in falls from heights of fifty to one hundred and fifty feet". I've pasted a summary of his study below, taken from Newsweek (Aug 24, 1942). But basically his conclusion was that, if you're falling a long distance, hope that something breaks and cushions your fall.

A woman jumps out of a sixth-story window and walks away uninjured. Another slips on a banana peel and is killed. Why? That was the question Hugh De Haven asked himself...

Obviously, De Haven couldn't subject human guinea pigs to experimental accidents in a laboratory. Instead, he analyzed the records of some remarkably lucky and well-documented falls—cases where men and women dropped from as high as 320 feet (the equivalent of 28 stories) and survived. A few of them:

--A 42-year-old woman jumped from a sixth floor. Hurtling 55 feet, she landed at 37 miles an hour on her left side and back in a well-packed plot of garden soil. She arose with the remark: "Six stories and not even hurt." Her body had made a 4-inch hollow in the earth.

--A 27-year-old girl dropped from a seventh story window and landed head first on a wooden roof. She crashed through, breaking three 6- by 2-inch beams, and dropped lightly to the ceiling below. None of her neighbors knew about the fall until she herself appeared at the attic door and asked assistance. And although one of her vertebrae was fractured, the girl was able to sit up in bed the same day.

--Another woman fell 74 feet, landing flat and face down on an iron bar, metal screens, a skylight, and a metal-lath ceiling. The impact made a 13-inch bend in the 1.5-inch bar, but she suffered only some cuts on her forehead and soreness about the ribs. She sat up and climbed through a nearby window.

--After a 72-foot drop, a 32-year-old woman landed in jackknife position on a fence of wire and wood. She picked herself up and marched to a first-aid station but was unhurt.

--A 27-year-old man fell 146 feet onto the rear deck of a coupe. Some of his bones were broken, but he remained conscious and was back at work within two months.

--A man dropped from a 320-foot cliff to the beach below, bouncing from a sloping ledge halfway down. Although his skull was fractured, he fully recovered. DeHaven noted that the man wore a large coat, which may have slowed his fall by a slight parachute action.

--A woman fell seventeen floors onto a metal ventilator box, landing in sitting position and crushing the metal downward 18 inches. Though both arms and one leg were broken, she sat up and demanded to be taken back to her room.

In this evidence, De Haven observed that (1) in each instance the blow was distributed over a large area of the body, and (2) the fall was not halted abruptly—in the ventilator case, for example, it was slowed through a distance of 18 inches and the impact was thus decreased. Even so, she had survived a force of more than 200 times gravity. By contrast, a person slipping on a sidewalk might crack his skull because hitting the unyielding concrete pavement generated a force of more than 300 times gravity.

Posted By: Alex - Sat Feb 05, 2022 - Comments (3)
Category: Human Marvels, World Records, 1970s

Gee Geronimo the Snail

I'm not aware of many famous snails. Gee Geronimo, as far as I know, may be the only one. Back in the 1970s, the Guinness Book of Records declared him to be the world's biggest snail. His owner was Christopher Hudson. Gee Geronimo died in 1976.

Christopher Hudson with Gee Geronimo
source: 1978 Guinness Book of Records



Connellsville Daily Courier - Nov 27, 1976



Hudson was apparently more in love with his snails than he was with his wife.

Honolulu Advertiser - Feb 4, 1977

Posted By: Alex - Wed Sep 15, 2021 - Comments (4)
Category: Animals, World Records, Marriage, 1970s

Captain Yancey and His Fabulous Autogyro



Source of clipping: Quad-City Times (Davenport, Iowa) 03 Jul 1931, Fri Page 1



Good article here.

The Pitcairn PCA-2 autogyro was developed in 1931 and proved to be a reliable, unique aircraft. The rotor at its top was unpowered and it flew more like a fixed wing aircraft than a helicopter, based on the power from its radial engine on the nose. Once at speed, the rotor spun based on aerodynamic forces alone thus generating lift. It was an amazing sight and attracted crowds wherever it flew. By April of 1931, the autogyro had flown across the United States at the hands of John M. Miller, had landed on the White House lawn (by test pilot Jim Ray), and had soared to a new altitude record of 18,415 feet (this being Amelia Earhart’s record).

Seizing upon the press interest in the design, the Champion Spark Plug company purchased one and painted the sides with their logo and named it “Miss Champion”. It was the perfect flying billboard. After hiring Captain Lewis “Lew” Yancey, a former Naval Lieutenant and USCG officer who was a maritime captain, they directed that he fly the nation on an advertising tour. By the end of 1931, Captain Yancey had flown the autogyro 6,500 miles, transiting 21 states and touching down in 38 cities around the nation. Yet the Champion Spark Plugs company still wanted more attention — and thus they asked him to beat Amelia Earhart’s altitude record as well.

Posted By: Paul - Sun Sep 05, 2021 - Comments (1)
Category: Inventions, Publicity Stunts, World Records, Advertising, Air Travel and Airlines, 1930s

Sylvia Ester, World-Record Swimmer

East German swimmer Sylvia Ester seems to have made one brief contribution to sports trivia before disappearing back into anonymity. Her contribution: having her world-record time disallowed due to the fact that she wasn't wearing a swimsuit.

I can't find any other references to her. Nor any explanation about why she was swimming nude.

The current record for the women's 100-meter freestyle is below 52 seconds.

Hobbs Daily News-Sun - Feb 19, 1967

Posted By: Alex - Tue Aug 17, 2021 - Comments (5)
Category: Sports, World Records

World’s Largest Hand-dug Well

Actually not the largest, as the Wikipedia page admits.





Posted By: Paul - Sun May 30, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Architecture, Regionalism, Technology, World Records

Page 1 of 8 pages  1 2 3 >  Last ›




weird universe thumbnail
Who We Are
Alex Boese
Alex is the creator and curator of the Museum of Hoaxes. He's also the author of various weird, non-fiction, science-themed books such as Elephants on Acid and Psychedelic Apes.

Paul Di Filippo
Paul has been paid to put weird ideas into fictional form for over thirty years, in his career as a noted science fiction writer. He has recently begun blogging on many curious topics with three fellow writers at The Inferior 4+1.

Contact Us
Monthly Archives
July 2022 •  June 2022 •  May 2022 •  April 2022 •  March 2022 •  February 2022 •  January 2022

December 2021 •  November 2021 •  October 2021 •  September 2021 •  August 2021 •  July 2021 •  June 2021 •  May 2021 •  April 2021 •  March 2021 •  February 2021 •  January 2021

December 2020 •  November 2020 •  October 2020 •  September 2020 •  August 2020 •  July 2020 •  June 2020 •  May 2020 •  April 2020 •  March 2020 •  February 2020 •  January 2020

December 2019 •  November 2019 •  October 2019 •  September 2019 •  August 2019 •  July 2019 •  June 2019 •  May 2019 •  April 2019 •  March 2019 •  February 2019 •  January 2019

December 2018 •  November 2018 •  October 2018 •  September 2018 •  August 2018 •  July 2018 •  June 2018 •  May 2018 •  April 2018 •  March 2018 •  February 2018 •  January 2018

December 2017 •  November 2017 •  October 2017 •  September 2017 •  August 2017 •  July 2017 •  June 2017 •  May 2017 •  April 2017 •  March 2017 •  February 2017 •  January 2017

December 2016 •  November 2016 •  October 2016 •  September 2016 •  August 2016 •  July 2016 •  June 2016 •  May 2016 •  April 2016 •  March 2016 •  February 2016 •  January 2016

December 2015 •  November 2015 •  October 2015 •  September 2015 •  August 2015 •  July 2015 •  June 2015 •  May 2015 •  April 2015 •  March 2015 •  February 2015 •  January 2015

December 2014 •  November 2014 •  October 2014 •  September 2014 •  August 2014 •  July 2014 •  June 2014 •  May 2014 •  April 2014 •  March 2014 •  February 2014 •  January 2014

December 2013 •  November 2013 •  October 2013 •  September 2013 •  August 2013 •  July 2013 •  June 2013 •  May 2013 •  April 2013 •  March 2013 •  February 2013 •  January 2013

December 2012 •  November 2012 •  October 2012 •  September 2012 •  August 2012 •  July 2012 •  June 2012 •  May 2012 •  April 2012 •  March 2012 •  February 2012 •  January 2012

December 2011 •  November 2011 •  October 2011 •  September 2011 •  August 2011 •  July 2011 •  June 2011 •  May 2011 •  April 2011 •  March 2011 •  February 2011 •  January 2011

December 2010 •  November 2010 •  October 2010 •  September 2010 •  August 2010 •  July 2010 •  June 2010 •  May 2010 •  April 2010 •  March 2010 •  February 2010 •  January 2010

December 2009 •  November 2009 •  October 2009 •  September 2009 •  August 2009 •  July 2009 •  June 2009 •  May 2009 •  April 2009 •  March 2009 •  February 2009 •  January 2009

December 2008 •  November 2008 •  October 2008 •  September 2008 •  August 2008 •  July 2008 •