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Flying Farmer, son plan Saturday jump near Makoti

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John Smith, the Flying Farmer, jumps over a burning trailer house in October 2016. He's making another jump Saturday, this time involving his grown son.

North Dakota’s Flying Farmer will take to the air Saturday for the first time in several years, and this time he’s being pushed by a new generation.

John Smith, 57, and son Brian Smith, 36, each will jump a car from a ramp northwest of Makoti. The object is simple: see who can fly the farthest.

“I’m shooting at breaking 200 feet,” John said.

John has gained notoriety for jumps at fairs and other attractions across the state since the 1990s. He’s even jumped on a frozen lake, and in 2016 sailed 160 feet and cleared a burning trailer house.

“That went perfect,” he said. “We drove the car home.”

That jump -- the first in 13 years after an injury in 2003 -- went so well that his wife suggested it be his last. She’s seen all his jumps in their nearly 40 years of marriage and will be on hand Saturday.

“She’s not very happy about this,” he said.

John will be driving a 1988 Chevrolet Caprice. Special equipment includes a helmet, and a pillow he’ll stuff between his chest and the seat belt. He expects he’ll be going 80 mph when he reaches the ramp.

Brian hasn’t told his father what type of car he’ll be driving. John has tried to talk him into installing a roll cage. The younger Smith’s experience is mostly jumps that were “just messing around,” John said, but he added “if anybody is going to give me a run for my money it’ll be him.”

It’s Brian’s first jump off the ramp they’ll use Saturday.

“He’ll have an eye-opening experience,” John said.

Brian will go first “out of fairness to the old man,” John said. More than one person has mentioned to him that he’s getting too old to jump. Saturday may or may not be his last.

“I’ve said that before and then I do it again,” he said.

The jump site is 2 miles west and 2 miles north of the Makoti Cenex C Store. Start time is 4 p.m. Admission is $10 per person.

Reach Travis Svihovec at 701-250-8260 or


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