Tuesday, April 1, 2008
Kittinger's World Record Sky-Dive
"Lord, take care of me now..."
One of the most intriguing stories of the early space program involves the super high altitude balloon missions of the late 50's and early 60's before there were the Mercury 7.
On August 16, 1960, Colonel Joe Kittinger flew his balloon to the height of 102,000 feet and jumped out to test and plan the survival strategies of pilots involved in high altitude emergencies and to test the escape chute. His free-fall broke the sound barrier before the chute deployed and his jump is still considered the World Record. He was so high that he was the first human to see the curvature of the earth. And he jumped!
The story of these test pilots and their amazing missions is well related in the book "The Pre-Astronauts: Manned Ballooning on the Threshold of Space" by Craig Ryan.
I did an earlier post on the graphic novel "First in Space" by James Vining detailing the story of Ham the astronaut Chimpanzee, and I think the story of Joe Kittinger would lend itself well to a graphic novel (by me) titled "Man-High." It's one of many irons in the fire currently.
Read the "Pre-Astronauts" book if you ever have the time or inclination to learn more.