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Flying Farmer out of intensive care, surgery lies ahead

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Flying Farmer

John Smith, the Flying Farmer (left), and his son, Brian.

The man whose attempted car jump went afoul on Saturday will need surgery on Monday but hospital officials in Minot have moved him out of intensive care, according to a family member.

The car driven by John Smith, known across the state as the Flying Farmer, corkscrewed as it left a ramp northwest of Makoti. First responders used the Jaws of Life to get him out of the car. An ambulance took him to meet a medical helicopter from Minot.

“He’s pretty out of it,” Amanda Smith, 34, said Sunday. Before getting on the helicopter he didn’t recognize his wife and at the hospital couldn’t recall what happened. A nurse filled him in on the details of the day, Amanda said, to which her father replied “then I guess the kid beat me.”

Flying Farmer's latest jump ends in disaster with crash

Smith and his son Brian Smith, 36, entered into a competition to see which one could fly a car the farthest. John had planned to be going 80 mph when he reached the ramp and was eyeing the 200-foot mark. He jumped 160 feet a few years ago when he cleared a burning trailer house.

Brian Smith’s jump was successful, clearing about 90 feet. John Smith’s jump went bad from the start, hindered in part by the direction of the sun because he couldn’t wear his glasses, his daughter said.

Smith will undergo surgery Monday to fix what Amanda called “a huge slice” in his upper left arm and shoulder. A CT scan showed he had no internal bleeding and he was moved out of intensive care. He could be released sometime late this week, Amanda said.

John Smith said a few days before the jump that his wife, Melinda, was “not very happy about this.” Since then, Melinda has threatened to cut up the ramp used in the jumps and has stated she “can’t do this anymore,” Amanda said.

Flying Farmer, son plan Saturday jump near Makoti

John Smith was “confident but at the same time hesitant” before the jump, joking that maybe he was too old to be doing such a thing, Amanda said. After the jump, as family gathered around the wrecked Chevrolet Caprice, he told everyone he’d be fine and that he wasn’t ready to say goodbye to his grandkids.

Brian Smith called his jump awesome on Saturday but on Sunday was quite sore, Amanda said.

A crowd of about 300 that gathered at a gravel pit northwest of Makoti went silent when John Smith crashed. He’s jumped more than 100 times at fairs and other attractions since the 1990s -- at one point even jumping on a frozen lake -- and gained notoriety across the state. Amanda has been on hand for many of those jumps.

“I’ve never seen one end this badly,” she said.

Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or


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