Category:
World Records

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

The Newbury Coat

1811: Sir John Throckmorton bet one thousand guineas that a woolen coat could be made in its entirety, starting with the shearing of the sheep, between sunrise and sunset. He believed that the wool could be "A Sheep's Coat at Sunrise, A Man's Coat at Sunset." The experiment took place on June 25, 1811, in the town of Newbury, England, and Throckmorton won his bet.

The 'Newbury Coat' maintained the record for the fastest coat ever made until Sep 21, 1991, when an identical coat was made, in the same manner, but an hour faster.

More details: Berkshire History

Liverpool Mercury - July 26, 1811



Posted By: Alex - Sun Jan 24, 2021 - Comments (2)
Category: Fashion, World Records, Industry, Factories and Manufacturing, Nineteenth Century

Longest fall without a parachute

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 - Fri Jan 08, 2021 - Comments (3)
Category: Human Marvels, World Records, 1970s

World’s Largest Gingerbread House

Seven years ago. What ever happened to it, I wonder.

Posted By: Paul - Wed Dec 09, 2020 - Comments (0)
Category: Excess, Overkill, Hyperbole and Too Much Is Not Enough, Food, Holidays, Regionalism, World Records

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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.

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