1980 Dickie Smith & Hans Tholstrup
The first attempt to leap a Double Decker bus was in Australia in the 1980’s. Hans Tholstrup was the intrepid driver, and the venue was the Sydney Showground.
Some say the stunt was performed to upstage Evel Knievel, who had toured the country in 1979 as part of the ‘Evel Knievel Thrill Spectacular Show.’ During these shows Knievel left the motorcycle jumping to Australian daredevil Dale Buggins and his son, Robbie.
It is more probable, however, that the bus jump was performed as homage to Knievels famous bike jumps – and in particular his disastrous attempt to leap 13 single decker buses at Wembley in 1975.
Whatever the reasoning behind the event, ‘Dick Smiths Flying Bus’ was originally expected to jump over 25 Harley Davidsons. This was eventually reduced to 14 scrap motorcycles.
Photographed by Russell White
The ramp was originally four feet high, but this was increased to seven feet with a curve similar to a water ski ramp. The protection for driver Hans was primitive, being a couple of straps holding him to the standard drivers seat and a life ring from a boat between him and the wheel.
Dick Smith, who at the time was editor of Australian National Geographic magazine, performed conductor duties with no safety harnesses, and clung to a pole at the rear of the bus, with a couple of bed mattresses on the stairs.
The bus had no engine, being powered by a Landrover which pushed the vehicle to 65 miles per hour, before peeling off. Although the bus did get air borne, it came down heavily nose first crushing the last motorcycle. It almost went end over end as the impact caused the bus to fold in the middle and the tires blew.
After the impact the bus came to a halt, and Hans and Dick to exited unharmed to the delight of the cheering crowd.
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Please let us know if you have any details of this or other bus stunts.