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Two skydivers tried to stabilize the falling box—they would not have been able to release Martin if something had gone wrong. (Courtesy of Skydive Chicago / Anthony Martin)

A Great Escape

A handcuffed Wisconsin escape artist breaks out of a locked box while skydiving

By Jennifer Marino Walters | null null , null
<p>Anthony Martin has been performing escape tricks since age 10. (Courtesy of Anthony Martin / AP Images)</p>

Anthony Martin has been performing escape tricks since age 10. (Courtesy of Anthony Martin / AP Images)

On August 5, Anthony Martin fell from an airplane 14,500 feet in the air and floated safely to the ground using a parachute. It would have been a typical skydiving experience—except that Martin, 47, was chained and handcuffed inside a locked box when he exited the plane.

It was just the latest in a long list of daring stunts the daredevil from Sheboygan, Wisconsin, has performed. Martin is an escape artist—an entertainer who breaks out of restraints and locked spaces. It took him less than a minute to free himself from the cuffs and chains, pick the box’s lock, get out of the box, and release his parachute.

“It’s good to be here,” Martin told reporters after landing in a field in Serena, Illinois, near Chicago. “It’s good to be alive.”


For the stunt—similar to one he performed 25 years ago—Martin’s hands were cuffed to a belt around his waist, and his right arm was chained to the inside of the box. The box was locked using a prison door lock that could not be opened with a key, then attached to a drogue (a small parachute that helped stabilize it).

The drogue was tossed from the plane’s door, sucking the box out with it. Two skydivers jumped with the box and held on to handles to further steady it. They did not have the tools to open the box and rescue Martin if he failed to escape.

For the first 8,000 feet or so, the box rocked wildly from side to side as Martin struggled to free himself. Then he opened the box, somersaulted out of it, and deployed his parachute.


Martin became interested in the art of escape at age 6, when his father taught him some of the techniques used in magic tricks. Before long, Martin was taking locks apart and learning how their mechanisms worked. At age 10, he began escaping from things. Since then, he has freed himself from jail cells, vaults, straitjackets, and more. He’s escaped from underwater cages and climbed out from beneath 2,000 pounds of sand.

But the latest skydive was one of Martin’s most dangerous stunts—and one of his greatest.

“This escape,” Martin told reporters, “will be hard to follow.”

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