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Gonna leave this world for a while
May 24, 2007 10:16 AM   Subscribe

Gonna free fall out into nothin' YouTube has several videos of Joe Kittinger's skydive from a balloon at 102,800 feet. Earlier this year Colonel Kittinger described the jump at a meeting of the Athanasius Kircher Society (Named after this guy.) [via; more inside]
Previous post with more info.
posted by kirkaracha (29 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite

 
I was not there as a skydiver, I was there as a pilot, as an astronaut. So as a result of that I only had 30 parachute jumps, and I made my first jump from 75,000 feet.
Later Colonel Kittinger was a POW for 11 months during his third tour in the Vietnam War ("I stayed at the Hanoi Hilton, and I'll tell you that was a crappy Hilton"), and he made the first solo balloon crossing of the Atlantic.
And I might share with you the three questions I'm always asked. And the first question is "what did you eat?" Well, I ate food. Second question is, "how did you go to the bathroom?" Well, I had a potty. And the third question I'm always asked is, "who was with you on your solo flight across the Atlantic Ocean?"
Part 1 of the Kircher Society Meeting is the introduction, with some footage of the jump.
posted by kirkaracha at 10:16 AM on May 24, 2007


Thanks for this - I love this guy. Faster than the speed of sound. So cool.
posted by vronsky at 10:21 AM on May 24, 2007


Wow. I've always wondered, how did he land that record skydive? I mean, how did he not end up 1,000 miles from where he was aiming?
posted by gottabefunky at 10:28 AM on May 24, 2007


Also, this guy deserves 20 years for the hair alone.
posted by DU at 10:29 AM on May 24, 2007


Uhh...wrong thread.
posted by DU at 10:30 AM on May 24, 2007


I think what DU meant to say was breaking the sound barrier caused Kittenger to lose most of his hair for the next twenty years.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:32 AM on May 24, 2007


Wow, that took some guts. Thanks for the post.
posted by kuujjuarapik at 10:39 AM on May 24, 2007


Boards of Canada video which features footage of the skydive.
posted by treepour at 10:50 AM on May 24, 2007 [4 favorites]


Then, he jumped. He fell for almost five minutes before reaching a safe altitude to open his main parachutes and float down to the ground. In this time, he went as fast as 614 MPH

Over five minutes of freefall? Damn. I'm reminded of the scene in Bill and Ted's Bogus Journey where they are falling to Hell and screaming, and falling and screaming, and falling and screaming, and then after a while, they are just falling, and then they are falling and passing the time by chatting.

That's a long time to fall.

Also, 614mph without a vehicle? That is impressive, but how is it possible? I thought terminal velocity put a person at about 200 mph before they wouldn't go any faster.
posted by quin at 10:55 AM on May 24, 2007


quin: Terminal velocity is when the resistance from the air balances the pull from gravity. Down low (below 15,000 feet, where most skydivers jump) terminal velocity in the classic belly-to-earth position is about 120mph. Kittinger, on the other hand, was at over 100,000 feet, where the atmosphere is almost non-existant. Because there were many less air molecules to run into, he had to be going much faster before their force equalled gravity.

(900 skydives, none from anywhere near 100,000 feet)
posted by indyz at 11:03 AM on May 24, 2007


Terminal velocity when falling into a black hole: ~c
Length of free-fall, as measured in minutes: ~infinite
posted by blue_beetle at 11:15 AM on May 24, 2007


Thanks indyz, I figured the altitude and air pressure were the mitigating factors, but I figured it was better to not be sure and ask, rather than assert and be wrong.

Still 600+ mph without anything around you would be terrifying if you had some kind of frame of reference. I bet that at that high up, you wouldn't even realize it.
posted by quin at 11:49 AM on May 24, 2007


Still 600+ mph without anything around you would be terrifying if you had some kind of frame of reference. I bet that at that high up, you wouldn't even realize it.

No doubt. Freefalling into a cloud at 120 mph can be scary, even though you logically know that nothing is going to happen. Some lower part of the brain starts screaming "that is very big and coming up very fast!"

Not that I would have any experience with freefalling through a cloud, because that is illegal in the US, and, despite it being totally awesome, I have never, ever done it, even accidentally. Nope, not me.
posted by indyz at 11:56 AM on May 24, 2007


Related thread (not really a double, and some pretty interesting links in it besides).
posted by pax digita at 12:00 PM on May 24, 2007


Length of free-fall, as measured in minutes: ~infinite

Only from the outside. If the fallee measures it it should be finite.....right?
posted by DU at 12:01 PM on May 24, 2007


That guy has some serious stones. I get queasy just watching him make that first hop off from the gondola. And he did it three. fucking. times.
posted by contessa at 12:07 PM on May 24, 2007


Awesome find, treepour
posted by KokuRyu at 12:25 PM on May 24, 2007


Oh, the Boards of Canada video is the cheesy one with the surfboard (nice music, though). I saw that, but it was a little too Point Break for the post.

This August Michel Fournier is going to attempt a jump from 130,000 feet (40 kilometers, nearly 25 miles). He's been planning it for at least five years, and had to cancel previous attempts due to bad weather.

Related thread (not really a double, and some pretty interesting links in it besides).
Which is why I linked to it in the post.

posted by kirkaracha at 12:46 PM on May 24, 2007


I'd think at that height you'd run the risk of some serious vertigo without reference to "up" and "down".
posted by basicchannel at 1:22 PM on May 24, 2007


I think "down" would be the direction you're falling, and "up" would be the other way.
posted by Floydd at 2:06 PM on May 24, 2007


Something really eerie about this jump. I bet it was really quiet up there. Sitting for a minute with the door open. "Well, I guess I'll go home now." Jumps.
posted by Area Control at 2:35 PM on May 24, 2007 [1 favorite]


Oh, the Boards of Canada video is the cheesy one with the surfboard (nice music, though). I saw that, but it was a little too Point Break for the post.
I feel the same way, although I love boards of canada. You may (like me) prefer this Pelican video with much of the same footage but none of the gnarly wave shredding.
posted by churl at 2:54 PM on May 24, 2007


From the Damned Interesting article:

Kittinger's first jump, which occurred on November 16, 1959, was a near disaster. After jumping from an altitude of 76,000, Kittinger's small parachute malfunctioned, opening early and catching Kittinger around the neck, causing him to spiral down towards Earth and lose consciousness. Luckily, his emergency automatic parachute activated at 10,000 feet, saving his life. Despite this near-death experience, Kittinger still flew a few more Project Excelsior missions.

That's just plain old crazy. Nice post. Thanks!
posted by slogger at 3:42 PM on May 24, 2007


Cool, thanks, churl! Didn't know about the Pelican video -- that footage is fantastic. I love the unbroken shot of the descent into the clouds. Funny how both of these videos (esp. the Pelican) seem to have more footage than the talking-head documentaries. Though the Pelican music isn't bad, I think I'm going to watch the Pelican video with the Boards of Canada's music.
posted by treepour at 3:45 PM on May 24, 2007


The Pelican video fades out my favorite part - the shot from the balloon basket top camera of him jumping out, and setting up a gentle twirl in the basket, with the hard sunlight shadows... Eerie, in a perfect B.O.C. way.

The only thing missing from the 'phase interfaces' in the BOC video (vacuum / air, air / water) would have been some water / land shots, but those aren't usually as dramatic (riding a surfboard up the beach - yawn).
posted by anthill at 4:46 PM on May 24, 2007


Big big cojones. How do you make yourself take that first step???
posted by DieHipsterDie at 5:19 PM on May 24, 2007


How would I do it?

Simple.

Jump before I thought about it, and deal with consequences later. The way I live my life, mostly...
posted by Samizdata at 5:34 PM on May 24, 2007


Beeeyoootifuulll.
posted by humannaire at 6:21 PM on May 24, 2007


Thanks indyz, I figured the altitude and air pressure were the mitigating factors, but I figured it was better to not be sure and ask, rather than assert and be wrong.

How very not-MetaFilter. Do you have a fever?
posted by five fresh fish at 8:26 PM on May 24, 2007


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