The Strange Death Of Fan Man

This video is what James Miller aka “Fan Man” is best known for… (see below for what happened to him ten years later):

Miller had been interested in flying since childhood and quickly became a paragliding enthusiast. He started with a jet pack tied to his back, and moved up to two-cycle aircraft engines which powered him through the skies above the desert. He began setting power-gliding records for altitude and distance, with a reputation for reckless daring (according to Wikipedia).

According to his brother, James liked to buck society – give them the business so to speak and mess with their heads – just for the hell of it. But when he tried to land in the ring of the Bowe vs. Holyfield fight in Vegas in 1993, he was beaten unconscious by security and angry fans and bystanders. He went to the hospital and then to jail where he posted $200 bail and was then released. Miller later joked, “It was a heavyweight fight and I was the only guy who got knocked out.”

In 1994, he decided not to land in the L.A. Coliseum during a Raiders’ game; landing nearby in a park instead. It was probably a good idea, as Raiders DE Howie Long explains, “Magnify that (other) beating tenfold. That’s what he would have gotten here.” Those Raider fans are pretty wild and crazy.

Miller later landed atop Buckingham Palace in London. He removed his pants and his lower body was painted green. He was deported and banned from the UK for life.

He moved to Alaska in 1996, where he continued to para-glide and give lessons while working in the computer industry. In 2001, he began having heart trouble that was seemingly irreparable and having tired of his poor health and major medical bills which he could not repay – Miller disappeared in September of 2002. In March, 2003, a group of hunters traveling through a remote part of Kenai Peninsula stumbled upon his corpse; the coroner confirmed suicide by hanging. Miller’s body was found shortly after his girlfriend gave birth to their son.

James enjoyed Alaska and the people there respected him as a stand-up guy. ”I think it was a huge relief to him to finally find his niche and his place in the world where he could be who he was and not feel like he was hiding it and be accepted. And I really think that had a lot to do with his demise, because that was such a special environment for him to be in,” his brother said.

Although Miller’s disappearance and death were reported in the local press shortly after his body was found, his suicide did not become widely known outside Alaska until the latter part of 2003 when ESPN went searching for him to film a SportsCenter feature to be shown during the tenth anniversary of his stunt.