Halloween is coming and that means it's time to indulge in the great American tradition of getting together with some buddies, having a few cold ones and building a giant cannon that can fire a pumpkin at 600 miles per hour.
Potato guns are nice enough, if you're a sissy-boy who gets nervous at the prospect of having a howitzer parked in your back yard. But if you're a Real Man, then you're after something bigger. Something longer. Something you can hang an American flag from, that's simultaneously an amusing Halloween novelty and ridiculously dangerous weapon. You want the Pumpkin Cannon.
The Pumpkin Cannon is nearly 100 feet long and uses two giant tanks of compressed air at about 50 pounds of pressure to fire pumpkins and other similarly-sized objects. The unlucky projectiles exit the barrel at an estimated speed of around 600 miles per hour and sail for almost a mile; at a 45-degree angle, they can reach altitudes of 3500 feet.
The cannon was built by New York state farmer John Gill and his buddy Gary Arold, a project the pair took on after seeing a smaller model built by a friend in 2006. Along with pumpkins, the cannon has also been used to fire objects like scuba tanks and a basketball filled with corn and foam insulation; the "worst thing" they've ever fired was a bowling ball, which Arold said "kept going and going and going," flying for more than a mile before it finally came down.
And like all Real Men, they laugh at danger and brush off concerns that their gigantic, home-made artillery piece might actually hurt someone. Gill took the ol' "walk it off" approach when a pumpkin unexpectedly broke up after being fired and showered the people in his corn maze with chunks of pumpkin guts and shrapnel. "They were shook up a little while they were walking around," he said, "but they got over it."