Some mothballed Soviet aircraft sitting on the side of the runway in Petropavlovsk Russia. With there military style radar up and running and all the security around the fighters and helicopters I felt like Clint Eastwood in the movie “Firefox” sneaking into the secret airbase to steal a top secret jet. I even had a guard escort me to the restroom. What did they think I was going to do? Steal the forty grit sandpaper they use for toilet paper?
As the Red Bull Stratos project continues preparations to break Joe Kittinger’s long-standing freefall record with a jump from a balloon at over 120,000 feet later this summer, the team this week released an animation of what the experience will be like for skydiver Felix Baumgartner. The video shows the balloon and the capsule suspended beneath it climbing through the atmosphere into the blackness of space, with the Earth’s curved surface far below. Baumgartner pauses on the capsule’s threshold to take in the view before leaping off. Red Bull says Baumgartner may reach supersonic speed on his descent.
No date has been set for the jump, but a 90,000-foot test jump is expected to launch from Roswell, N.M., sometime in the next few weeks. “After that one is completed, we hang out waiting for the right moment to do the BIG ONE!!,” Baumgartner posted recently on his Facebook page. Kittinger’s record of 102,800 feet was set in 1960. He was an Air Force test pilot working with the space program. The Red Bull team has been working on the project since 2005.
Boy oh boy I’d give ANYTHING to be able to take that ride. I love high altitude jumps and have jumped from 20,000 feet three times. One time was in a Cessna turbo 206 that took a full day to get up to altitude. We took off just after the sun had dipped below the horizon, climbing out we got high enough to see the sun again, essentially sunrise, then as our climb rate dropped the sun set again, hence it too one full “day” to get to altitude. Click on the link for a really cool animation of the jump.
This 4th of July I finally got to do the jump I’ve been trying to put together for years, a night jump over the lake in Menomonie where they put on a great fireworks show every year. The jump was a big success with me and 18 of my friends jumping out of the Twin Otter from thirteen thousand feet over the lake. The view was everything I’d hoped for with the fireworks going off beneath my feet and reflecting off the water for a cool mirror effect. We flew around for twelve minutes or so watching the big show along with all the little private ones going off across the countryside then landed at the municipal airport that was only two miles away. We packed up our parachutes, flew back to the drop zone and jumped back in, capping off the night by having three jumpers land off. A lot of the jumpers were a bit nervous about doing a night jump into somewhere unfamiliar but after having such a great time I think this is going to be a yearly event. The video isn’t very good because I kept looking around to keep from running into the other jumpers.