American aerospace pioneer Joseph Kittinger dies at 94


An enormous of American aerospace historical past, Air Power Col. Joseph Kittinger Jr., who for greater than half a century held a world report for a parachute soar from the sting of house, died in Florida on Friday at age 94.

In his record-setting soar in 1960, he stepped out of a gondola 102,800 toes (nearly 20 miles) excessive, an elevation that put him outdoors greater than 99 p.c of Earth’s ambiance.

Then-Capt. Kittinger free-fell for 4 minutes 37 seconds, reaching speeds over 600 mph.

The soar was a part of early space-age exploration, occurring earlier than people had landed on the moon and when it was unclear whether or not an individual may survive a soar from the sting of house.

Col. Kittinger died of lung most cancers, based on a good friend, former U.S. consultant John L. Mica, the Related Press reported. The US Parachute Affiliation (USPA) additionally introduced his demise.

USPA mentioned in an announcement late Friday that it was “saddened” by his demise, noting that he turned a distinguished nationwide determine when “he made an extended, lonely leap from a hot-air balloon 102,800 toes above the Earth,” on Aug. 16, 1960, as a U.S. Air Power captain concerned in Challenge Excelsior.

As a part of the mission, he accomplished three jumps over 10 months from a pressurized gondola hoisted into the stratosphere by giant helium balloons — his first try was nearly deadly, however he was undeterred. The mission sought to check whether or not people may survive extraordinarily high-altitude bailouts and to design ejection techniques for navy pilots.

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In his closing record-breaking soar, he took off from the New Mexico desert sporting a cumbersome strain swimsuit — that might briefly malfunction — and rigged with gear that nearly doubled his weight, then fell at report speeds.

It took him 1 hour 31 minutes to climb to his most altitude, whilst he started experiencing extreme ache in his proper hand due to a failure in his strain glove. He remained at peak altitude for round 12 minutes earlier than stepping out of his gondola to free fall, then parachute all the way down to a touchdown.

“There’s no approach you’ll be able to visualize the velocity,” Col. Kittinger informed Florida Development journal in 2011. “There’s nothing you’ll be able to see to see how briskly you’re going. You haven’t any depth notion. … There aren’t any signposts. I may solely hear myself respiratory within the helmet,” he mentioned.

In 1960, he was awarded the Harmon Trophy by President Dwight D. Eisenhower for excellent accomplishments in aeronautics.

His report for the very best balloon ascent and the longest parachute free fall would stand for 52 years. It was damaged in 2012, when Col. Kittinger labored as a advisor to the Austrian Felix Baumgartner, who jumped from 128,000 toes, plummeting to Earth at speeds over 800 mph.

Joseph Kittinger Jr. was born in Tampa in 1928 and have become fascinated with planes at a really younger age, in accordance to the New Mexico Museum of House Historical past. He attended the College of Florida earlier than making use of for Air Power cadet coaching. He obtained his pilot wings in 1950.

He retired as a colonel in 1978 after a adorned profession with the Air Power, together with serving three excursions in Vietnam as a pilot, the place he spent 11 months as a prisoner of conflict, in accordance to the Nationwide Aviation Corridor of Fame.

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He continued his trailblazing as an adventurer, setting one other report in 1983 for the longest distance flown in a 1,000 cubic meter helium balloon.

In 1984, he turned the primary particular person to fly solo throughout the Atlantic Ocean in a helium balloon, from Maine, to the Italian Riviera. A jubilant Col. Kittinger informed reporters on the time that the flight had been “pure, unadulterated journey.” He added “you simply should go for it; that’s the American approach.”

Col. Kittinger wrote a e book in 1961, “The Lengthy, Lonely Leap,” and remained energetic in aeronautics tasks, particularly ballooning, after his retirement. He lived in Orlando, the place a park is called after him.

A memorial service will likely be deliberate for January, USPA mentioned.

Rahul Diyashi
News and travel at your doorstep.

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