A Brief History
On September 14, 1984, retired USAF Colonel Joseph Kittinger made aviation history by becoming the first person to pilot a gas balloon solo across the Atlantic.
Kittinger scored other aviation firsts when he made the then record high altitude skydive, 102,800 feet, in 1960, a record that stood until 2012. Kittinger flew 483 combat missions in Vietnam, including being shot down and captured in 1972.
Kittinger had also previously set altitude records for balloon flight, and on one of those high-altitude flights became the first human to view the curvature of the Earth fully. Not one to retire early, Kittinger at the age of 84 in 2012 served as a capsule communicator for Felix Baumgartner’s record skydive in the Red Bull Stratos project that broke Kittinger’s own high altitude skydive record almost 53 years prior.
Kittinger earned the Silver Star twice, the Legion of Merit twice, the Distinguished Flying Cross six times and the Bronze Star three times!
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For more information, please see…
Greene, Ellen. Death of Joseph kittinger : First person to conduct stratospheric space diving. Kindle, 2022.
Kittinger, Joe and Greg Ryan. Come Up and Get Me: An Autobiography of Colonel Joe Kittinger. University of New Mexico Press, 2011.
The featured image in this article, a photograph of Stargazer gondola on display at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, has been released into the public domain worldwide by its author, Joho00 at English Wikipedia.
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