The MythBusters The MythBusters

MythBusters Episode 130: Crash and Burn

Premier Date: November 11, 2009

After crashing down a cliff, any car will always end up on fire.


To begin, Jamie and Adam brought a car to the top of a quarry. The car accidentally rolled off the cliff before the accelerator was pushed down with a weight. The car tumbled only part of the way down the quarry walls and did not explode. The MythBusters next brought in a fresh car and designed an improved launching method. The second car sped of the cliff and crashed much more impressively but still did not explode. Investigation of the wreckage showed that the gas tank was in a very well-protected position and barely damaged. At this point, the myth was busted. To find out if an exposed gas tank will even explode under impact, Jamie and Adam used a large, falling weight to crush a gas tank and added boxes of matches to simulate sparks. The high speed footage showed a wide spray of gasoline mist that quickly ignited into a large fireball. To attempt to recreate an explosion with an actual falling car, Jamie and Adam attached a gas tank externally to the front of a car and covered it with boxes of strike-anywhere matches. Upon crashing, the fuel tank did explode, but the result was less than hoped for because Jamie forgot to release the parking brake during launch. Finally, to duplicate the car explosions seen in action movies, Adam and Jamie successfully used a ramp, plastic jugs of gasoline, detonation cord, and a wireless trigger.

In 1633, an Ottoman Turk named Lagari Hasan became the first person to make a successful manned rocket flight by launching vertically to 300 meters (1,000 feet) and descending back to earth with a winged device.


Grant, Tori, and Kari started with a variety of reference drawings and built small-scale rockets to see if a single- or multi-engine rocket would perform better. Despite the multi-engine design performing better, the team thought it would be simpler to build a single-engine rocket for the full-scale tests. Deciding that hang glider-like wings would be too difficult to make and use, the team instead opted to see if a parachute could be used to safely land the dummy rocketeer. The team also replaced the 140 pounds of black powder stated in the myth with 15 pounds of modern rocket propellant. When the team attempted to launch their rocket, it did get off the ground but tumbled out of control after only 100 feet. Given that the team could not successful reproduce the mythical feats even with the aid of modern technology, they called this myth busted.