Tuesday, May 08, 2012
THE DAY I FLEW WITH JOE KITTINGER
I learned later, while watching Joe perform for the crowd, he'd only illustrated a bit of his wild and crazy barnstorming act for me. Touring the country, offering rides and performing high in the sky was something he had done for years. A man like Joe could scarcely keep his feet on the ground for any length of time. In 1960 his daredevil act bailing out of a balloon had set records and proved man could survive a fall from 102,800 feet above the earth. At least a man like Colonel Joseph Kittinger.
It'd been a while since I thought about that day---after all it was 20 years ago---until the news broke that a stuntman from the UK, Steve Truglia will attempt to break Kittinger's record. He's going to jump from a balloon at 120,000 feet. His body will break the sound barrier at 700 mph. It's been over 50 years since Joe accomplished this and lived to tell about it. He had far less equipment to insure his survival. He blacked out while free falling, as will Steve Truglia. But Steve will have a lot of fancy "fail-safes" to keep him from going into a spin, and that's good. Read about Truglia's plans here.
All this brought back such memories of my meeting with Joe Kittinger. My ride in his plane, and later interview that brought about two separate articles on this daredevil hero. His book is available on Amazon, and no, I wasn't paid to say that. Bought a copy myself. Joe is quite a guy and I'll never forget my time spent with him, on the ground and above the earth.