16 August 1960 — Captain Joseph Kittinger, USAF stepped from the gondola of his high altitude helium balloon and began a record-breaking plunge to the ground, over 120, 000 ft below.  With a drogue chute deployed to stabilize his freefall (a lesson-learned form the first jump) he reached a maximum velocity of 614 mph before opening his chute at 18,000 ft.

2010:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PyGmTV0q2kY

Don’t know about you, but it makes my palms sweat….

By the way, Capt. Kittinger went on to serve not one, but three combat tours in Vietnam, with a total of 483 missions – the first two years flying the COIN version of the A-26 Invader, and on the third, flying the F-4D Phantom II as CO of the 555th Fighter Squadron.  During the third tour he was credited with shooting down a MiG-21, and just before his tour was up, was shot down and taken prisoner on 11 May 1972.

4 Comments

  1. You know he is working with a guy who is planning to break this record this year…and break the speed of sound in freefall…..

  2. Affirm — you’ll briefly see the two of them together in the film near the end…

  3. Bill K

    They imply the practical application might be astronauts ejecting and free-falling to low-altitude safety. But wouldn’t heating be a killer at max v. from orbit vis a vis balloon?

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