Bobby Leach already had a massive reputation as an English circus stuntman. And he was gaining even more attention by announcing his intention of being the first stuntman to ever complete the triple challenge. The triple challenge was three intense and insane stunts that used the Niagara Falls.
First, you would make a barrel triple through the rapids to the whirlpool and then go over the Falls in said barrel. And once you completed those tasks, you would parachute off the Upper Steel Arch Bridge into the upstream rapids of the river. Though you didn’t really have to do the tasks in any order, so on July 1st, 1908, Leach parachuted off the Upper Steel Arch Bridge being just the 4th person to do so.
During 1910, Bobby Leach returned to the Niagara Falls area with every intention of completing the barrel challenges. He wanted to test his barrel going through the Great George Rapids, and even attended an anchor to it so he could keep a steady path through the Whirlpool. It looked like his idea had worked, but the anchor was cut off by a rock and he quickly became stuck. Luckily a friend William Hill swam out and saved him – risking his own life in the process.
During that same summer though Leach was able to complete three successful trips down the famous Whirlpool Rapids in a barrel. And he even tried to swim across the Niagara River from the American Falls, attempting it two times, but alas he had to abort on both tries.
And on July 25th, 1911, Bobby Leach was ready to defeat the ultimate challenge: to go down the Niagara Falls in a barrel. He climbed into his 2.4-meter long steel drum at Navy Island. Because at this particular location the current will bring you towards the Canadian Shore, where the Falls are located. He was released at 2:55 PM and it took just 18 minutes for the barrel to reach and go over the Horseshoe Falls. The drum became stuck at the base of the river and it took 22 minutes for them to retrieve Leach. Luckily he survived, with a broken jaw and a shattered kneecap: but he had done it, the first man to complete the triple challenge!
If that challenge was not enough, Leach then returned to Niagara Falls in 1920 and parachuted out of a plane to land in the Niagara River. However, on both attempts, he was not able to land exactly in the Niagara Falls, only managing to land in some corn fields closeby – still he was a crazy stuntman that is for sure!