Rick used to walk, or stand, on jets, while D.B. skyjacked at least one. Neither of these guys has been seen since the 70’s. While the FBI has closed the case on D.B. many wonder why Rick - who aspired to be the best daredevil on the planet, which meant pushing Evel Knievel off that ledge - left the limelight.
Could be Rick may have planned his amazing vanishing act all along for he never, while capturing the world’s imagination as the Human Fly, ever took his red mask off. For all we know the bloke next to us, if he’s tall and unmasked, could be Rojatt, “the wildest superhero ever...” hiding in plain sight.
Perhaps the most startling, stunning deed of the Canadian-born Human Fly’s was when he decided he had better be perched atop a DC-8 while it flew around at 250 miles per hour. To prevent the Human Fly from blowing away in the wind what with a takeoff that featured 3,000 pounds of air pressure - he, wearing a cotton outfit, mask and goggles, was strapped into a vertical case, which itself was fastened to the plane by 4 cables.
The Human Fly and his predilection for fooling around on things-jetty is especially noteworthy because usually it is air-force pilots trained in flying their own machines that perform stunts, or is, of late, a Russian fighter pilot buzzing (barrel rolling) an American jet that takes care of this aeronautically-nutty stuff. Ordinarily a fly - human or otherwise - or a human - buggy or otherwise - could not best a jet.
In 1977, when attempting to beat Knievel’s motorcycle jump of 13 buses, by clearing 26 buses, he did so, but horrifically pranged up the rocket-powered Harley-Davidson XL 1000 Sportster motorcycle (top speed capability 300mph) and his person...about 4 buses short of the down ramp. His stunt-caper literally crashed his career (this was just 1 of 38 accidents/operations over 4 years, he says) and, thus, started his disappearing act, right after being taken away by stretcher, having busted a few bones including at least one ankle, from the almost-made-it jump.
He had hoped to shock and awe his fans with a rocket-propelled jump from Britain to France (or France to Britain does it matter? – anyway, over the English channel) but that, alas, was not to be...
Of course he might not have disappeared so much as passed away. But you’d think that that news would have come out, ferreted by an investigative reporter. Surely family and friends wouldn’t have, if Rick had passed, decided to deke out the world and put another name on a death certificate. To what, no pun intended, end?
So let’s assume he lived through the 70’s and may still be with us today. So why the vanishing act? Sure it is a good publicity angle but after a few decades most public interest in his whereabouts has lessened. Did family or friends, for whatever reasons or rationales, convince him to clam up, turn turtle? Did a shrink diagnose him as a reckless publicity hound, and recommend he turn down the ego-thermostat and bunker in? Perhaps his injuries from the beat-Evel escapade have embarrassed him, or, worse yet, have limited his abilities to communicate.
His fly-by-height act made an impact, all the more remarkable for social media had not really kicked in – and that’s the straw that stirs the drink allowing so many to ride the waves of insta-recognition these days – for feats far less significant than Rick’s. A comic book, The Human Fly, produced by Marvel, was based on his exploits. Unfortunately it was a short, 20-issue, run.
What is it, with daredevils like Rojatt, skyjackers like Cooper, or sky-walkers like Kane Petersen, for example? Is it the thrill of danger, the proximity to death, the craving of attention, a lack of something in the core of their lives – or an absence of common sense - that drives them to these supremely risky adventures - or is it just that they are simply wild and crazy guys at heart?
Jeffery Werner of People Magazine profiled this guy back in 1976 and ended the piece, summing up Rojatt’s take on existence perfectly. “I don’t have a death wish. I have a life wish.” Let’s hope that he hasn’t disappeared like Jimmy Hoffa, the Teamsters leader, did in the 70’s - let’s instead hope - he’s alive and well, but has opted for anonymity, has chosen just to be a fly on the wall.