Movies make anything seem possible, even escaping from a maximum-security federal penitentiary that happens to be located on an island nearly 2 miles from the mainland. It seems highly unlikely that anyone would be able to dig through concrete walls with a spoon, crawl through an air vent, use a papier-mâché dummy as a decoy, descend a 50-foot wall, climb a 12-foot barbed-wire fence, inflate a homemade raft made of rain coats (take that, Martha Stewart crafts!) and paddle across the frigid San Francisco Bay.
Not only is it possible, but 4 prisoners did it with debatable levels of success!
Escape from Alcatraz is a fantastic film that depicts the very true escape plan and action of Frank Morris, brothers Clarence and John Anglin, and Allen West. The four amigos planned a breakout of epic proportions involving all of the crafts and cons listed above. Their plotting and perpetration took over six months but eventually everything was ready to go. The night of the escape Allen’s point of exit – his air vent – got stuck and he was forced to simply go back to bed (keep that epic FOMO in mind the next time your plans get cancelled).
The remaining 3 prisoners went ahead with their plan and although there are many different theories, many believe they successfully completed the “Dig, Dash, Dive” Alcatraz triathlon. Some people believe they made it safely to shore and eventually to Brazil where one witness claims to have spotted them, while others (including the government) say that they froze to death in the water.