What It's Like To Snowboard Behind An Airplane At Take-Off Speed

Jamie Barrow is known as Britain's fastest snowboarder, which makes him uniquely qualified to get towed by a 1,200 hp Pilatus PC-12 across the runway of the Engadin Airport in Switzerland.


Barrow, who is on the British Snowboard Cross Team, was towed "Tax The Rich" style near the Swiss resort village of St Moritz, trading in the Ferrari and wakeboard for a turboprop executive transport airplane and a snowboard.

This isn't Jamie's first daredevil stunt. Last year he set the world record for fastest snowboarder towed behind a vehicle at nearly 70 mph. He also set a record for fastest snowboarder propelled by electric jet engines.

Illustration for article titled What It's Like To Snowboard Behind An Airplane At Take-Off Speed

Barrow was taxied to the end of the runway by rope, similar to those used in wakeboarding, with only a wooden handle to hold on to. The stunt was originally planned to happen on a frozen lake, but the idea was abandoned due to thin ice.

The plane hit 78 MPH, which is nearly liftoff speed for the Pilatus PC-12 turboprop. Authorities squashed intended attempts to allow the airplane to liftoff with the rider still in tow.

The location and plane were both appropriate for the stunt, with the PC-12 designed to operate out of remote, rugged airstrips common in the mountainous landscape of Switzerland. Pilatus has recently begun testing a similarly capable light jet that has also been seen on similar icy runways in the valley shadowed by the Alps.


In order for Barrow to complete the stunt, a long strip of snow-covered grass running parallel to the runway had to be groomed, but that was it. The airport was still actively arriving and departing traffic during the entire stunt.

Photo: Matt Badenoch Photography


All that for 78 mph ? Can't snowboarders hit that speed (and faster) on the right hill ?