Do you remember the classic Dunk Tank from carnivals of your childhood? The anticipation of the wind-up, and the drama as the victim was drenched? We sure did. But we thought the whole experience would be improved by adding propane cannons to cranking it up to a toasty 3500°F.
So along with Brent Heyning and Kenny Abney, we built the Dunk Tank Flambe. The victim stands in the center of a steel-and-glass “fishtank,” surrounded by half a dozen propane cannons connected to gigantic tanks. The ball thrower–who for best results should be a member of the victim’s immediate family–does their best to hit the target. If they do, then the tank explodes with heat and flame.
Since incinerating the victim is perhaps a bit too dramatic, we outfit him or her with a spacesuit-like fireproof suit. These are the same fireproof suits that firefighters use to battle the most extreme blazes.
Having been blasted many times, I can report that the suit does an amazing job. Even with flames licking my faceplate, I can barely feel the heat. Except in the hands. The gloves seem to be slightly less insulated.
I was the brave soul who volunteered to be the first to test this contraption at the STEAM Carnival in Los Angeles. My bravery however did not extend to my immediate family. Despite the offer, neither my mom or my wife were willing to throw the pitch that would set me ablaze.
The Dunk Tank Flambe has travelled all over the country, and been operated at many festivals. In one instance, we were actually given permission by the local fire-marshall to put lucky members of the general public inside. Ordinarily, though we’re forced to use our own employees as victims, which is either a reward or a punishment depending on their personal outlook.