The Diesel Brothers have some big plans for Memorial Day. No picnics or pool parties — they’re going to jump a truck over an airplane in flight on live television.
“And not just any truck, a monster truck,” said Diesel Dave (aka Dave Kiley). “It's a 12,500-pound diesel-powered monster truck that has about 14,000 to 16,000 horsepower.”
(An average, midsize car has maybe 170-190 horsepower.)
If things had worked out the way the Diesel brothers — whose business is based in Woods Cross — originally planned, a nationwide audience would tune in to the Discovery Channel on Monday to see them jump the truck over an Air Force fighter jet right here in Salt Lake City. But that didn’t work out for a couple of reasons.
“We were going to try to have the Thunderbirds come fly under us,” said Heavy D (aka David Sparks). “But after digging into that a little bit more, we found that they leave a massive wake as they fly and disrupt the air so much that it would potentially suck the monster truck right out of the sky.”
That would certainly be spectacular, but not exactly in the way that the Diesel Brothers and Discovery were hoping. So instead, they’ll be jumping the monster truck over a small, 700-800 pound plane — a single-seater with fabric-covered wings.
And it’s happening at the old airfield in Wendover, not in Salt Lake City or its environs.
“We tried to set it up here in the valley, and all the flight patterns for the [Salt Lake International] airport are blocking the pathways for our pilot to be able to fly in and under us,” Heavy D said. “Wendover is like the Wild West. Basically, it’s a lot easier to do whatever you want out there in the desert.”
It was Discovery Channel programmers who came to the Diesel Brothers — stars of one of their most popular shows — looking for a Memorial Day event. The Utahns’ first thought was to try to break the record for the longest-ever jump by a monster truck, which stands at 230-ish feet. But that wouldn’t give them a TV-friendly “wow moment,” so their thoughts turned to aviation.
Monster trucks have jumped over aircraft before. Big planes, like a Boeing 727. But they couldn’t find any indication that a monster truck had ever jumped over a plane of any size while it was in the air.
They’re hoping to be the first on Monday in “Diesel Brothers: Monster Jump Live” (6 p.m. MT, Discovery), a two-hour special that will — they hope — feature Heavy D climbing in the Brodozer and jumping 30 to 40 feet high and at least 100 feet across to clear the plane.
“That’s the minimum we want to go,” Diesel Dave said “If we can go farther, we will.”
Adding to the challenge will be doing it live, which adds a whole ’nother layer to the fifth-season finale of the “Diesel Brothers” TV series.
“Reality TV is easy because you can go back and re-create moments and reshoot things if you have to,” Heavy D said. “I mean, we have stupid things happen where a camera battery dies — just dumb, little things where you have the luxury of going back and reshooting that. When you're live, you don't have that.
“That’s why we gave ourselves a two-hour window to be able to get this done.”
Because no matter how much planning and preparation go into the stunt, there’s one thing they can’t control — the weather.
“We can work around rain a little bit,” Heavy D said. “But wind is the biggest factor, because [the pilot] will be flying an 800-pound airplane, and so any wind gusts are going to shake him around like crazy. ... He has to hit his mark perfectly, and a crosswind could ruin that.”
Which is why a number of other stunts are planned for the program, while they wait for the weather, if necessary.
It’s a change of pace for the Diesel Brothers team, but it’s also just sort of another day at the office. Diesel Dave said that when people find out what they’re planning, they get looks “like we’re either stupid, insane or crazy enough to actually pull it off.”
“Maybe three, four, five years ago, my wife would have been, like, ‘You’re going to do what?’” Heavy D said. “But now we’ve done enough of this stuff where she’s kind of like, ‘Awesome. What time? And can I bring the kids?’ So they are very understanding.”
Ashley Sparks, Des Kiley and their children will be in Wendover on Monday, along with a handful of active-duty members of the military and their families. But don’t drive out to Wendover hoping to see it — it will not be the public event that the Diesel Brothers originally imagined.
“The FAA [Federal Aviation Administration] got heavily involved and put some serious restrictions on the amount of people and the layout and stuff like that,” Heavy D said.
But keep an eye out for the next Diesel Brothers live event. They’re not ready to announce anything yet, but they’re talking about future events that will be staged in the Salt Lake City area.
“It'll probably happen more than more than once a year,” Heavy D said. “People like live entertainment, and we're going to take advantage of that and provide as much entertainment as we possibly can.”
“And whatever we do next, I would count on it being done here in our backyard because of we’re very proud of our state.”
Diesel Dave and Heavy D said they’ve moved past a March court ruling holding them responsible for selling vehicles that had been modified to bypass pollution control devices in a suit brought by a group called Utah Physicians for a Healthy Environment.
“There was a huge misunderstanding between what they thought we were and what we really were,” Heavy D said. “They originally came to us saying that we were guilty of hundreds and thousands of vehicles polluting the Wasatch Front. ... We had not done anything emissions or pollution-related for years.”
It was determined they had sold 17 such vehicles over a seven-year period, and Heavy D said, “We stopped long before they even ever came to us that lawsuit. So we are doing our part to make sure that Wasatch Front air is cleaner, because we live here and we don't want to deal with crappy air.”
“It’s really easy to get news outlets to pick up stories about guys that are on TV that are potentially polluting,” he said, but he had no criticism for the UPHE. “They were trying to do what’s right. They’re trying to clean up the air.“