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Legendary Air Force pilot who parachuted from 19 miles above Earth dead at 94


Retired U.S. Air Force pilot Col. Joseph Kittinger handed away Friday in Florida.

Kittinger, 94, held the report for the best parachute bounce for greater than 50 years.

The reason for his loss of life, which was introduced by former U.S. Rep. John Mica and different mates, was lung most cancers.

Beforehand an Air Force captain and pilot, Kittinger gained worldwide fame when he accomplished three jumps over the course of 10 months from a gondola that was hoisted into the stratosphere by giant helium balloons.

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Mission Excelsior was geared toward serving to design ejection techniques for army pilots flying high-altitude missions.

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Throughout his first bounce in Nov. 1959, Kittinger almost died when his gear malfunctioned after leaping from 14.5 miles above the floor.

He misplaced consciousness as he went right into a spin that was 22 occasions the drive of gravity, however was saved when his computerized chute opened.

A few month later, he made his second bounce with no hitch from simply over 14 miles.

Kittinger’s record came on Aug. 16. 1960, within the New Mexico desert. Nonetheless, this time, his strain swimsuit malfunctioned as he rose, resulting in his proper hand swelling as much as twice its regular measurement earlier than the bounce from 19 miles above the floor.

Col. Joseph Kittinger in freefall

On Aug. 16, 1960, Col. Kittinger stepped from a balloon-supported gondola on the altitude of 102,800 toes. In freefall for 4.5 minutes at speeds as much as 614 miles per hour and temperatures as little as -94 levels Fahrenheit, he opened his parachute at 18,000 toes.

He exceeded a pace of 600 miles per hour earlier than the step by step thickening air slowed his fall to about 150 mph when his parachute deployed at 18,000 toes.

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“There’s no approach you may visualize the pace,” the Tampa native instructed Florida Pattern journal in 2011. “There’s nothing you may see to see how briskly you’re going. You don’t have any depth notion. If you happen to’re in a automobile driving down the highway and also you shut your eyes, you haven’t any concept what your pace is. It’s the identical factor should you’re free falling from house. There aren’t any signposts. You understand you’re going very quick, however you don’t really feel it. You don’t have a 614-mph wind blowing on you. I might solely hear myself respiration within the helmet.”

Kittinger keep within the Air Drive after his jumps and served three tours of duty during the Vietnam War.

In Could of 1972, he was shot down however ejected and was later captured, spending 11 months in a Hanoi prisoner-of-war camp and present process torture.

Kittinger retired from the Air Drive in 1978 and turn into an area icon within the Orlando space.

His report was damaged in 2012 by Austrian Felix Baumgartner, leaping from 24 miles above the New Mexico desert and reaching a pace of 844 miles per hour. Kittinger was an adviser.

He’s survived by his spouse, Sherri.

Joseph Kittinger speaks

Joseph Kittinger Jr. (R), balloon pilot who broke the report flying to 102,800 toes, speaks to the media as Paule Tibbets listens throughout a press convention July 19, 2003, in Dayton, Ohio.

“Joe will probably be significantly missed, however his achievements and legacy will lengthy be admired and remembered by explorers all through the world, Explorers Membership President Richard Garriott de Cayeux wrote in an announcement.

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Kittinger, a member of the membership, was a distinguished recipient of the 2001 Explorers Membership Medal.

Garriott de Cayeux famous that, amongst his many accolades, he was the primary particular person to make a solo crossing of the Atlantic in a gas-powered balloon, in addition to the primary particular person to completely witness the curvature of the Earth.

The Related Press contributed to this report.



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