The Man Who Pierced the Sky. "When Felix Baumgartner [autoplays sound] set out to make a living by stunt jumping—from cliffs, buildings, and bridges—the young Austrian had no idea where it would take him: to a pressurized capsule nearly 24 miles above New Mexico, last October 14, preparing to free-fall farther than any man in history, and at supersonic speed. Detailing Baumgartner’s quest, William Langewiesche explores what drove him to ever greater heights."
The highest recorded skydive was performed in 1960 by Joe Kittinger from 102,800 feet. That record may not stand any longer. After twenty years of planning and attempts, almost twenty million dollars, and a two hour ascent on May 26th, Michel Fournier, wearing only space suit and parachute, will step out of the gondola of a 650 foot helium balloon at 130,000 feet.... The Great Leap. [more inside]
It's a bird, it's a plane!, no it's the Special Forces using strap-on stealth wings to zoom silently into battle. We've all fantasized about jet packs, but being dropped from a plane with wings on your back is a silent way to travel great distances before opening a parachute for landing, just like daredevil Felix Baumgartner, who soared across the English Channel. Who wants to go first?
"Skydiver in record Channel flight" is the claim made by an Austrian skydiving across the channel aided by small strap-on wings. Evidently he needed a 1 in 4 glide angle to make it, but a simple understanding of flight mechanics would suggest that the distance he could fly is proportional to the amount of strap-on wing area. At what point does skydiving become gliding?