Richard Halliburton, born in January 1900 with a disdain for the status-quo and an ingrained refusal to travel the well-worn path of conventional life. One of Halliburton’s more shameless achievements took place in 1928 in Panama. He registered himself as a ship and swam the length of the Panama Canal; taking 10 days to pass through all three sets of locks and setting the record for paying the lowest canal toll of 36 cents in the process, a record which still stands today.
Halliburton had a great love for adventure and travel and, much to his Father’s chagrin, made a living by giving lectures and writing books about his travel adventures – both of which were very well received and lead to Halliburton’s widespread popularity. Halliburton dedicated his first book to his Princeton roommates, “whose sanity, consistency and respectability… drove [him] to this book”. One such adventure in 1930 involved successfully circumnavigating the globe in an open-cockpit biplane dubbed The Flying Carpet. If this wasn’t enough of an achievement by itself – as Halliburton flew over Nepal, he stood up in the cockpit and took the very first aerial photograph of Mt Everest, oh and as part of the journey he also flew over the Taj Mahal… upside down! And just because he could, in 1936 he crossed the Swiss Alps riding on the back of an elephant.
Whilst by today’s standards Halliburton’s achievements may pale in sheer ridiculousness when compared to the likes of the Dennis Rodman’s, John Daly’s and David Hasslehoff’s (watch this space) of the world; his unconventional approach to life perhaps paved the way for these modern day expressers to do what they do best. In Richard’s own words:
“When impulse and spontaneity fail to make my way uneven, then I shall sit up nights inventing means of making my life as conglomerate and vivid as possible… And when my time comes to die, I’ll be able to die happy, for I will have done and seen and heard and experienced all the joy, pain and thrills-any emotion that any human ever had-and I’ll be especially happy if I am spared a stupid, common death in bed”
Halliburton’s wish was granted in 1939 as he attempted to sail a Chinese junk ‘The Sea Dragon’ from Hong Kong to San Francisco. Questionable as to how sea-worthy this vessel actually was before setting sail, the boat was last observed battling mountainous seas near the Hawaiian archipelago and was subsequently never seen again. As a result Halliburton was declared lost at sea.
Richard Halliburton’s numerous achievements are undoubtedly wild and proud for his era, he has been referred to as one of the most famous people of the 1920s & 30s. One could even go as far as suggesting he helped pave the way for the Lonely Planet’s, numerous travel bloggers and adventure travellers of the world. Speculation aside, one thing is for certain – this is one guy that clearly gets it.
So next time you’re thinking about making a change, buying that one way ticket, or busting out your signature dance move in front of a crowd of strangers; just think to yourself – what would Richard do?