How high can you fall from?

My friend Personal Demon tipped me off to a potentially historic skydiving event that will be happening in roughly 17 days; Michel Fournier of France will attempt to break the record for the highest freefall.  Ascending in a pressurized capsule attached to a high-altitude balloon, Fournier will dive from 130,000 feet (25 miles) over the plains of Saskatchewan, Canada.

The previous record goes back to Joseph Kittinger, Air Force pilot and all-around Übermensch.  In 1960, he participated in Project Excelsior, which was implemented to study the effects of high-altitude bailout on pilots.  Kittinger left a balloon at 102,800 feet, and fell for 4 minutes and 36 seconds reaching a maximum speed of 614 mph!  (Kittinger is less-known for being one of the few pilots who had to bail out of his jet in a thunderstorm.  The storms kept him aloft under parachute for 20 minutes before dumping him to the ground.)

Fournier’s group claims that their event is being done for similar medical and technological reasons, but it will at the very least be a very cool human accomplishment.  I’m staying tuned…

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One Response to How high can you fall from?

  1. Pingback: Grounded! | Skulls in the Stars

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