When you watch movies, prison escapes are always so intriguing, especially in flicks like The Shawshank Redemption. In reality, it is a nightmare for the authorities. And to be honest, it isn’t really great to have a criminal on the loose. However, it does take some extensive planning and some huge set of balls. Through history, many have tried, few have succeeded. 


Here are 10 audacious prison that’ll make you forget about The Shawshank Redemption:

1. John Dillinger used a wooden gun to scare prison guards and escaped in the sheriff’s car.

John Dillinger was public enemy number one. He was imprisoned in the presumably escape proof jail at Lake County. On March 3rd, 1934, he used a wooden gun to scare guards and inmates, ultimately locking them in their quarters and cells. He then acquired two actual sub-machine guns from the arms room, one for his accomplice as well.


The fast car on the property was Sheriff’s personal car was in the garage. He took two hostages, a garage worker and a deputy sheriff. The former was made to drive while the deputy rode passenger. The two outlaws pressed their guns to the hostages’ backs from the rear seat.


They smoothly rode past a team of 50 guards which was stationed specifically for John Dillinger. While dropping him off, he said to the deputy sheriff – “Ha, ha, ha! And I did all this with a wooden gun!”


2. Drug lord El Chapo used a narrow 1.5 km long makeshift tunnel under his prison shower.

In a recent interview with Sean Pean, El Chapo confessed that he supplied “more heroin, methamphetamine, cocaine and marijuana than anybody else in the world”. In 2001, he had escaped from prison in a laundry cart in 2001. It took 13 years to catch him again.


In 2015, while in jail, he stepped into the shower. That was the only part of his cell not accessible to security cams. He didn’t come out for 25 minutes, worried the guards entered his cell and found him missing. He had escaped through a tunnel.


It was 33 feet drop which he used a ladder to descend. The tunnel was 1.5km long, 5 feet 7 inches tall and 30cm wide. There was a motorbike found in the tunnel, which was probably used to transport him and the construction material. Chapo was at large for 2 years before being recaptured in Jan, 2017.


3. A wife took helicopter lessons to fly her husband away from prison.

In 1986, Nadine Vaujour’s husband Michel was serving 28 years in a French prison. He had escaped twice before, his latest attempt required his life partner to be his side kick. So, Nadine started taking helicopter flying lessons.

Meanwhile, Michael gathered some nectarines and painted them to look like grenades. On the day of his escape, he flung those at guards and started threatening those in his way, eventually reaching the roof where his wife was waiting.


She flew them to a football field and the lovebirds drove away from there. Nadine was eventually caught in southern France while Michael was caught during a failed bank robbery. Michael tried two more heli-escapes later.


4. Two friends used blades hidden in burgers to cut metal and escape NY’s largest prison.

At 5.17 am on June 7, 2015, prisoners Richard Matt and David Sweat were missing from their beds at Clinton Correctional Facility, NY’s largest max security prison. 


They had cut through a metal pipe and used a tunnel that opened some 500 feet away from the prison. Their plan included using hacksaw blades that a guard, who later confessed, would hide in the frozen hamburger meat and they collected over time.


They even had the audacity to leave a note that read “Have a nice day” . However, after some days on the run, the cops caught up. Matt was shot dead and Sweat was wounded and recaptured. 


5. Three inmates used dummies and a raft made from raincoats to escape from Alcatraz. 

For the 30 years it was active (1934-1963) Alcatraz Prison authorities claimed no one had ever escaped. Three men- Frank Morris, John Anglin, and Clarence Anglin carried out the most intricate escape plan ever from the inescapable prison.


They used hair collected from the barbershop and papier-mâché to create dummies head to place on their beds. Being an island, the moisture in the air left sections of the walls weak, which they chipped away at during prison music sessions to avoid detection.


They stole over 50 raincoats to create a raft, climbed into a vent and on 11 June, 1962, they were gone. Authorities claimed that they drowned in the rough ocean. However, post cards sent to families, a man claiming to have met them in ’75 and other evidences suggested they made it out. US Marshals Service still lists them as “Wanted”.


6. The man who used helicopters to flee prison, thrice! 

In 2001, Pascal Payet planned to break out of jail via a helicopter hijacked by his pals. He not only managed to escape but dared to return in 2003 to free those who had been convicted with him, again in a helicopter. 


They were captured again. Payet’s antics was him transferred from prisons every 6 months, always kept under surveillance and in solitary confinements. In July, 2007, though, he planned another escape.


4 masked men, taking advantage of Bastille celebrations, hijacked a helicopter, landed in prison and flew away with him. They were caught a few months later and given extended sentences. Pascal also holds the world record for most planned helicopter escapes.


7. A yoga master used his skill to crawl through the food slot.

They called him the Korean Houdini. In a bid to keep himself fit during 23 years in and out of prison, Choi Gap-Bok used to practise yoga. 


He was jailed again on September 12, 2012 in South Korea where he was served food through a tray slot, 6 inches tall and 18 inches wide. 5 days into his sentence, while the guards slept, he rubbed oil over his body and put his flexibility to use and slid through the tiny food slot.


Choi is 5′ 5″ but he managed to slip through in just 34 seconds. He was caught six days later and locked up in a cell with a smaller food slot.


8. Frank Abagnale (portrayed in Catch Me If You Can by DiCaprio) convinced the guards he was an undercover agent and simply walked out of prison.

He was sentenced to 12 years in prison. But while he was being transferred, his papers went missing. Using that to his advantage, he convinced prison guards that he was an undercover prison inspector. 


He asked a friend, Jean Sebring, to create two business cards. An FBI agent’s and a prison inspector’s. She smuggled them to him. One day he asked the guards to call her and handed them her card.


Jean picked up and said that it was imperative that she saw Frank outside prison walls. The guards allowed it without hesitation. Smiling, he simply walked out of prison.


9. Three prisoners carved out a master key from memory to escape Britain’s Alcatraz.

Back in the day, Parkhurst prison on Isle of Wright was Britain’s reply to Alcatraz. In 1995, three men Keith Rose, Andrew Rodger and Matthew Williams, decided to test the security measures put in place by planning an escape.


They actually fashioned a key, purely from memory of seeing one on an officer. It worked and helped them open a series of doors. They had also managed to fashion a ladder, which they used to scale the perimeter wall after cutting through a fence.


They spent days trying to steal a plane or a boat. But their time out in the open made them vulnerable to capture. Which is what happened when an off-duty officer spotted them.


10. Teenage shooter used scrap material to build a ladder and climb out of prison. 

TJ Lane was serving 3 life sentences for killing three of his classmates in 2012. In 2014, aged 19, he decided to spring out from the medium security prison along with two other guys. 


Right next to the recreational area, they found a crawlspace under a locked storage area. They sneaked inside for months on end and used scrap material like old cabinets to put together a 13-foot ladder.


They used it to scale a building near the perimeter and then jumped 15 feet to freedom. But since they were on foot, they were all caught within a few hours of their escape.


Is the movie still on your mind?