Premier Date: July 24, 2014
Adam and Jamie chose three criteria for their investigation: jumping safely to reach the barrel without hitting its bottom, being able to reach the barrel accurately, and ability to bite and hold the apple. They set up a 100-foot (30 m) construction crane at a swimming pool and built “Bungee Buster”, a dummy rigid enough to hold a correct falling posture and heavy enough to match Jamie’s weight. By fine-tuning the bungee cord, they were able to drop Buster so that he consistently penetrated only a few inches below the water surface.
The bungee cord was re-calibrated for Jamie’s weight and then Adam’s weight. For the accuracy test, a large plastic hoop was placed in the pool and both Jamie and Adam were able to put their heads inside it. Finally, they placed several foam rubber apples inside the hoop, and Jamie made several jumps in an attempt to bite into them. The changing wind caused him to miss the target at first, but even after the target was re-positioned, he was still unable to bring back any apples because the ripples created by his impact pushed them out of the way.
He and Adam declared the myth busted at this point, but decided to build a device that would allow them to accomplish the feat. At the workshop, they devised a head harness with a set of mechanical jaws that operated when the wearer opened his mouth. Suspended upside down over a tub full of water and real apples, Jamie was able to snag them with this rig; at the pool, he missed the apples, but snagged the hoop on his last try.
The Build Team researched the plane shown in the commercial on which this myth was based and found that it could fly at speeds as low as 35 miles per hour (56 km/h). They took some lessons from the head tennis coach at UC Berkeley, both in calm air and with a giant fan producing winds to match the plane’s minimum speed. The wind affected the flight path of the ball, but they were able to adjust their technique to compensate.
After the show’s insurance company rejected the team’s plan to do their testing on a flying plane, they decided to build a set of wings, mount them on a truck’s flatbed trailer, and drive it down a runway at 35 miles per hour (56 km/h). Grant’s final design had a wingspan of 40 feet (12 m), and he and Tory set out to volley the ball 5 times at speed while standing on opposite ends, with Kari driving. After several failed attempts, professional tennis player Tyler Browne took Grant’s place, and he and Tory were soon able to achieve volleys of up to 12 hits.
The team declared the myth confirmed, then repeated the test with Tyler and Tory standing 32 feet (9.8 m) apart, farther than their first trials. Although the increased vibrations affected their playing, they did soon attain 5 or more hits.