Thursday, September 01, 2005

Col Joseph 'Joe' Kittinger 1928-

On August 16, 1960, Captain Joe Kittinger jumped from a huge helium balloon at a height of 102,800 feet, almost 20 miles above the earth! Captain Kittinger fell for a full 4 minutes, 36 seconds.
He experienced temperatures as low as minus 94 degrees Fahrenheit and a maximum speed of somewhere between 614 - 714 miles per hour, possibly exceeding the speed of sound as he fell (he fell so fast that to this day, it seems nobody is absolutely positive what the exact speed was!)
The 28-foot main parachute did not open until Kittinger reached the much thicker atmosphere at 17,500 feet. Kittinger safely landed in the New Mexico desert after a 13 minute 45 second descent.
This famous balloon parachute jump was called Project Excelsior, and it successfully proved that a new parachute system would solve the problem of high altitude escape by aircraft crewmen.