Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Intestinal Fortitude Anyone?

On August 16, 1960, Joseph W. Kittinger made a high altitude jump from the Excelsior III at 102,800 feet (31,300 m). The project was research into high altitude bailouts. He made a series of three extreme altitude parachute jumps from an open gondola carried aloft by large helium balloons. Towing a small drogue parachute for initial stabilization, he fell for four minutes and 36 seconds, reaching a maximum speed of 614 miles per hour before opening his parachute at 18,000 feet. Pressurization for his right glove malfunctioned during the ascent, and his right hand swelled up to twice its normal size. He set historical numbers for highest balloon ascent, highest parachute jump, longest drogue-fall (four minutes), and fastest speed by a human being through the atmosphere. I believe it is still the record. Oh, and he is still alive at 82 years old. This dude had guts.

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