Aerial Anarchy- The Physics of Defying Gravity

With all the subtlety of a spade to the head, Nitro Circus’s performance at Joe Louis Arena , located in the heart of  downtown Detroit, opened with the line  “When committing to this life you have two options: Roll away on two wheels to jump another day or away on four to the hospital.” If this statement does attest to the electric action sport collective, then I do not know what will.

The light dimmed into darkness, and then was instantly cut with sporadic pulsating swirls and bursts of  colored lights.  Flame shooters launch pillars of fire into the air, sending waves of heat over the crowd. The atmosphere is charged with expectation as the poster child of Celtic Punk booms pure Boston grit to the crowd in the form of Dropkick Murphys’ “I’m shipping up to Boston”. ( ) The song renowned as the soundtrack of the Samuel Adams Boston Logger Commercial sets the stage of performers who carry formidably impressive clout.

From what started out rather organically as a group of friends, these self-proclaimed “fearless feats by freestyle freaks” take adventure to the max as they live out their childhood dreams by manifesting them in the present moment. The show features Travis Pastrana and his friends traveling around the world riding dirt bikes, base jumping, and performing stunts that range from rollerblading powered by sling shots to motorcycles hitting the original whip.

Although the performers vary in origins, the roots of Nitro Circus were planted in Detroit, where they got their start.  The stunts and performances Nitro Circus have accomplished, created, and manufactured cannot be described in one word as they apparently defy physics and push the bounds of plausibility.

Originally walking in with no knowledge of what “nitro circus” stands for, I thought I was in for a night of redneck parkour. On the contrary, I was completely blown away by the grandiose affair of flying feats. In today’s world we are conditioned to believe what we see in the movies is automatically fake and computer generated.  Nitro Circus goes against the grain and scarily hits home as there is real, breathing human life on the line.

This is evident through the compromising positions that the participants put themselves in. Throughout the show, footage was shown to the crowd on the jumbotron of instances where tricks had not gone according to plan. One playback of a devastating moment showed rider Bruce cook short, shooting the landing ramp and crashing to the ground, resulting in paralysis from the waist down due to a spinal cord injury.

Proving any obstacle can be overcome with a little bit of innovation, Bruce has rebounded and embraced this disability.  Bruce Cook landed the first-ever motorcycle back flip by paraplegic in the United less than two years after the crash.

These performers do what they do for the sake of doing what they love and I think that is truly admirable in that they pursue their dreams and live them out to the fullest by persevering even through disabling injuries.