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Sic Semper Tyrannis

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

French Skydiver Stays on the Ground

A French skydiver wanted to break records for the biggest, fastest jump out of an airplane ever. The statistics of what he planned to do are a little bit intimidating:

(Michel) Fournier, a former (French) army paratrooper with more than 8,000 jumps under his belt, planned to be three times higher than a commercial jetliner. A mountain climber would have to ascend the equivalent of four Mount Everests stacked one on top of the other.

It was expected to take Fournier 15 minutes just to come down, screaming through thin air at about 900 mph — 1.7 times the speed of sound — smashing through the sound barrier, shock waves buffeting his body, before finally deploying his chute about 6,000 yards above the prairie wheat fields.
That’s a long way. A very long way. Check out the pictures at the link: he was wearing a thick yellow suit and a helmet – still, I wonder how the human body responds to that kind of speed.

What's it like to break the sound barrier with your body?

But no matter, since the jump never happened:

The helium balloon Michel Fournier was going to use to soar to the stratosphere detached from the capsule he was going to use to jump from 130,000 feet, about 25 miles high.

It happened after the balloon was inflated on the ground at the airport in North Battleford, Saskatchewan. The balloon drifted away into the sky without the capsule.
So let's see: I lost a $5 bill a few weeks ago, and spent the entire day kicking myself over it. He spent years and hundreds of thousands of dollars (the one balloon was estimated at $200,000) planning this jump, traveled halfway around the world to make the attempt, and then forgot to tie the balloon down before inflating it.