Criminals have used some novel escapes over time to get out a prison or get away from the crime scene. Notorious Pittsburgh has two that would probably make a top ten list. In 1817, Joseph Pluymart and Herman Emmons robbed a bank and fled down the Ohio River by canoe.
In Pittsburgh’s most famous jail break, The Biddle Brothers and Mrs. Soffel escaped by horse drawn sleighs. You can check out these stories in Notorious Pittsburgh.
Some Other Famous and Unique Escapes
Alcatraz Escape (1962): In one of the most famous prison escapes, three inmates—Frank Morris and brothers John and Clarence Anglin—dug holes in the walls of their cells at Alcatraz Federal Penitentiary. They used makeshift tools and created a raft out of raincoats to navigate the treacherous waters of San Francisco Bay. Despite an extensive manhunt, they were never definitively located or confirmed to have survived.
Plane Hijacking Escape (1971): In a daring escape, a man known as D.B. Cooper hijacked a commercial airplane, extorted a ransom, and parachuted out of the plane, disappearing into the wilderness. Despite an extensive search, he was never conclusively identified or apprehended.
Prison Helicopter Escape (2001): In 2001, three inmates escaped from a high-security prison in Quebec, Canada, using a hijacked helicopter. The helicopter landed in the prison yard, and armed accomplices helped the inmates board the aircraft. They were able to fly to a remote location where they transferred to a car and fled. The escape sparked a massive manhunt and captured international attention.
Sewer Escape (2005): In 2005, two inmates in Arizona escaped from a maximum-security prison by crawling through a network of underground tunnels and sewer pipes. They managed to evade capture for several weeks before being apprehended by law enforcement.
Hot Air Balloon Escape Attempt (2007): In 2007, two inmates in Texas attempted to escape from prison by using a homemade hot air balloon. They constructed the balloon in a prison workshop, but their plan was foiled when the balloon crashed into power lines shortly after taking off.
Tunneling Escape (2015): In 2015, drug lord Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán escaped from a maximum-security prison in Mexico through an elaborate tunnel. The tunnel was equipped with lighting, ventilation, and a motorcycle on rails to transport him to freedom. The escape highlighted the sophistication of criminal organizations in using engineering to facilitate escapes.
Drone-Assisted Escape (2021): In 2021, a French prisoner escaped from a prison near Paris using a drone. The drone dropped a bag containing wire cutters, a balaclava, and other items that aided the escape. The prisoner was able to cut through a fence and flee before authorities could apprehend him.