There is a man who jumped 102,800 feet to the Earth from a balloon. His name is Joseph Kittinger, and the gondola, balloon capsules, and suit he wore during this epic feat are on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force in Dayton.

Guy Walks Out of a Balloon...at 102,800 feet

That's the Freaking Earth Way Down There!

In 1959, Kittinger, then an Air Force Captain, transferred to the Aerospace Medical Research Laboratory at the Wright-Patterson Air Force base in Dayton. There, he was assigned to Project Excelsior, which researched the effects of high altitudes on pilots  in preparation for the coming manned space program. Mostly though, they just wanted to see how high an altitude a person could safely parachute back to Earth Рjust in case things ever went badly up there. The most reasonable way to accomplish this, apparently, was to have a man walk out of a balloon.

In the end,¬† the experiment was a success, and his work was valuable. But let’s just look at it from this point of view: 102,800 feet is really high – and though I have none to speak of in either the metal or flesh variety – you really do have to have balls of steel to go 20 miles into the sky in an open-air gondola being raised by a balloon. Let alone jump.

The thing that carried Joe Kittinger to the edge of the Earth

I wouldn't feel secure in this thing at any height

I am once again ashamed of my cowardice during this blog process (see my post on St. Louis), and salute the 82 year old retired Colonel Kittinger. He now lives a quiet life in Orlando, Florida, and may he live another 82 years. Frankly, if you survive this, you deserve to Never Die.