Top Five Incredible Prison Escapes (and Failures)

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1.Escape from Alcatraz

Alcatraz prison was once known as the most inescapable prison in the US. Sitting on a small, rocking island in the San Francisco Bay, not a single prisoner escaped in the first twenty-nine years of operation until a small group of inmates hatched the most fantastic escape plan in history. A small group of inmates spent over a year digging small holes through the cell walls that lead into an unused service corridor.  Leaving dummy heads in their beds made from a mixture of toilet paper, soap and hair, they escaped down the corridor and scaled a ventilation shaft and escaped through the roof.  The men constructed a makeshift raft out of raincoats and contact cement and paddled into the night. Some of their possessions were found on a nearby island but their bodies were never found. Officially, the escapees were believed to have drowned in the cold water of the bay.

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2. Pascal Payet

Pascal Payet is an escapee famous for using helicopters as his getaway ride. While serving a sentence for murder in a high security prison, Payet escaped when a hijacked helicopter collected him from the prison’s grounds. While on the run he organised another helicopter escape for inmates serving in  the exact same prison. After being being caught and jailed in another facility, he escaped a third time… in another helicopter. The chopper was stolen from a nearby airport by four masked gunmen, who then flew off towards the coast with Payet on board.

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3. The Great Escape

A large group of prisoners, mainly airmen from the allied forces, secretly worked to build three covert escape tunnels nicknamed Dick, Tom and Harry. The tunnels were dug with old cans and the prisoners would transport the sand and dirt outside in their clothes. The plan was for 200 men to escape in the middle of the night and the mastermind of the secret operation had organised the potential escapees false papers so they could avoid detection by the Nazi authorities after they had escaped.  On the night of the escape the 77th man was seen by guards and the escapees were foiled. Of the 76 men that made it out that night, only three escaped with the rest being either shot or recaptured.


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4. Escaping from Auschwitz

Rudolf Vrba and Alfred Wetzler were Jewish prisoners in Auschwitz, a Nazi concentration and extermination camp during WW2. In the light of day, while the guards had their backs turned, the two men jumped into a pile of wood. It had a hollowed out area with enough space for two men and several other prisoners concealed the hole with wooden planks. Knowing that guards would be searching for them with dogs, they sprinkled the surrounding area with tobacco soaked in gasoline to throw the dogs off the scent. They hid for three days before breaking free and travelling 60 miles on foot to get help.


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5. The Great (FAILED) Escape

In 1979 Australia’s greatest ever escape plan was foiled. A group of seven inmates had been working together for over eighteen months to build a huge, complex tunnel system stretching from beneath a cell cupboard all the way to freedom. The men had been working all day every day, chipping away through the concrete with screwdrivers, knives and other bits and pieces.  In the elaborate tunnel were support beams, electric lights and extension cords and the tunnel was ready to go.. On the night before the planned escape, one of the men called his girlfriend to tell her he’d be seeing her ‘on the weekend’.  She must have called his grandmother, because the grandmother then called the prison asking the exact time he was to be released. This naturally raised the suspicions of the prison guards, who went on to find the tunnel and quash Australia’s greatest escape story.

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It may not involve James Bond-style helicopters or laboriously digging holes, but it’s jolly good fun. Try out our escape rooms and see if you can perform Australia’s next great escape.



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