Three men escaped the “escape-proof prison” in 1962. Whether or not they survived still remains a mystery, but a new study shows how they could have made it to shore.
Frank Morris, and brothers John and Clarence Anglin accomplished such great feats to escape Alcatraz, it’s hard to believe they went through all they did only to drown in the San Francisco Bay. Some believe that’s exactly what happened, because the idea of floating through icy waters on an inflatable raft and not dying seems a bit fantastical. However, researchers found that if the men did everything right, they could have made it to shore.
Here are the 9 things you need to do in order to break out and get as far away from The Rock as possible.
1. Be Patient
The boys in Cell Block B spent months digging through their 8-inch thick walls with spoons and vacuum cleaner parts.
2. Practice Your Accordion Skills
The only way you could manage all that noisy digging without being caught is to cover it up. Frank Morris practiced his accordion in the evenings, which concealed the sounds of impending escape.
3. Find Your Inner Artist
Pieces of cardboard painted to look like air vents are great for hiding holes in the wall. If you aren’t the “artsy type,” your accordion case will do in a pinch.
4. Save Your Hair And Hoard The Soap
Each man had a fake head in their beds in order to trick prison guards when they made their rounds. Using plaster, soap, and hair trimmings from the barber shop, they sculpted heads and painted them with prison art kits. Soap was also used as a substitute for the rivets they later removed on the roof.
5. Brush Up On Your Strength And Agility Training
In order to get outside of the prison, the men had to squeeze through holes into a utility hallway, climb up a drainpipe and through an exhaust vent to the roof, slide back down the kitchen vent, and scale two barbed wire fences.
6. Channel MacGyver
Whenever the guards weren’t watching, the escapees fashioned an inflatable raft out of rubber raincoats and used an accordion-like concertina as a bellows to inflate it.
7. Leave At Exactly Midnight
Dutch scientists created a simulation using historical data of the tide to show the behavior of the water in the Bay and the possibilities the men would have encountered. The study showed that if the men left before midnight, the tide would have swept them out to the ocean and they would have died of hypothermia. If they left after 1am, the tide would have worked against them, keeping them in the water for so long that they would have either died of hypothermia, or been discovered by the police at sunrise.
But if they left at exactly midnight, they would have been sucked out toward the Golden Gate Bridge until the tide reversed, giving them enough slack tide to paddle to shore.
8. Love Your Brother
A body wearing a prison uniform was seen floating in the water a month later. U.S. marshal Michael Dyke believes it could have been the body of Frank Morris, because he thinks the Anglin brothers would have protected each other.
9. Stay Hidden
Over 50 years later the mystery remains unsolved, but Mr. Dyke thinks there’s a good possibility they survived. Warrants for their arrest will remain active until their 100th birthdays.
If these guys did manage to survive, we may need to credit them with helping us understand the power of the accordion.