******************* My dilettante translation: ****************************
French man wants to break sound barrier in free fall
- Parachutist wants to jumps from 130,000 ft altitude.
Paris, 14. March (AFP) - the French parachutist Michel-Andre
Fournier wants to be the first person to break the sound barrier
in freefall. Fournier, 54 years old, explained his plans last
Saturday evening at the Paris airport Le Bourget. Next September
he wants to climb with a Helium Balloon to an altitude of 130,000 ft
from which he intends to jump. According to his calculations the
ascent should take about two hours. His fall back to earth should
last about 8 minutes and 30 seconds. "I will break the sound barrier
after 37 seconds" Fournier says, who has about 8000 jumps already.
He expects to reach his maximum speed of 1107 miles per hour -
equals 1,62 Mach - after 54 seconds. The record attempt is supposed
to be held in September in the Crau-plains in southern France.
The project, which has been planned by Fournier for ten years, has
an estimated cost of about 20 Million Francs (about 3.3 Million US $).
He wants to raise the money with the help of several sponsors, among
them the French textile industry. In fact the experts for cloth have
developed just for this purpose special jumpsuits and gloves so
that Fournier is protected against the cold. The French man will
have to endure temperatures of minus 76 deg Fahrenheit. The
current record was set in November 1962 by the Russian Jewgeni
Andrejew, who jumped from 80,326 feet altitude. cs/mt AFP
****************** original posting & report *********************************
Subject: Re: 8,5 Minuten freier Fall
Date: Sun, 14 Mar 1999 22:18:28 +0100
From: Patrick Hartwig <sky...@snafu.de>
Organization: [Posted via] Interactive Networx
Franzose will im freien Fall Schallmauer durchbrechen
- Fallschirmspringer will aus 40 Kilometern Höhe springen
Paris, 14. März (AFP) - Der französische Fallschirmspringer Michel-Andre
Fournier will als erster Mensch im freien Fall die Schallmauer
durchbrechen. Dazu will sich der 54jährige im kommenden September mit
einem Helium-Ballon in 40.000 Meter Höhe tragen lassen und dann in die
Tiefe stürzen, wie Fournier am Samstag abend auf dem Pariser Flughafen
Le Bourget erläuterte. Der Aufstieg wird nach seinen Berechnungen zwei
Stunden in Anspruch nehmen. Der Sturz zurück zur Erde soll dann genau
acht Minuten und dreißig Sekunden dauern. ?Die Schallmauer werde ich
nach 37 Sekunden durchbrechen?, rechnete Fournier vor, der bereits 8000
Sprünge hinter sich hat. Die Höchstgeschwindigkeit von 1782
Stundenkilometern - gleich 1,62 Mach - will er nach 54 Sekunden erreichen.
Der Rekordversuch soll im September über der südfranzösischen Crau-Ebene
über die Bühne gehen. Die Kosten des Projekts, das Fournier bereits seit
zehn Jahren vorbereitet, bezifferte er mit 20 Millionen Franc (knapp
sechs Millionen Mark). Das Geld will er mit Hilfe von mehreren Sponsoren
zusammenbekommen, darunter dem französischen Textilinstitut. Die
Kleider-Experten haben eigens eine neue Springerkombination und
besondere Handschuhe entwickelt, damit Fournier gegen die Kälte gerüstet
ist. Der Franzose wird Temperaturen von minus 60 Grad aushalten müssen.
Der bisherige Rekord wurde im November 1962 von dem Russen Jewgeni
Andrejew aufgestellt, der aus 24.483 Metern nach unten sprang.
blue ones, Thomas
Blue Skies and Calm Seas,
So sorry, the FAI and Guinness both recognize *OUR OWN* "Colonel Joe"
(Col Joeseph W. Kittinger, Jr., USAF [ret]) as the record holder for
longest delayed opening for his mind-boggling jump from 108,200 feet
(32,979 meters) back in 1960. If Fournier wants to break that record
(and who wouldn't *jump* at the chance? Sorry, I couldn't resist), then
the best of luck to him, and he's going to need every bit of it. Just
ask Kittinger (Geez, I wish he posted on the ng, wouldn't that be
And where does this guy calculate 8 minutes to free-fall. He wants to go
faster than Colonel Joe, and yet it only took Joe Kittinger 4 and a half
minutes to descend to 18 grand....
Thanks for the translation!
Opinions expressed are not
necessarily those of the
Boeing Company. Please
remove "NO-SPAM" to
perhaps Fournier wants to deploy low - say 3000 feet - which gives
him an extra 1.5 minutes at the bottom end of the skydive, and
perhaps the extra 22'000 ft at the beginning do infact amount to
close to 2 minutes although he's going faster.
I think the suit does have to be pressurized. At certain low
pressures blood starts boiling at regular body temperature -
as far as I remember the pressure at these altitudes is
already low enough for that.
In any case - the article made me realize why these records
were never broken - it takes too much $$$. Kittinger was a
goverment project and they have a lot of money. They were
mainly interested in preparation for journey's into space,
but once the Mercury & Apollo projects were on their way there
was no need for such tests anymore - hence no more jumps. (dunno
about the Russian, but probably also govt. supported). If Fournier
is successful also the fact that he did it with only/mostly private
support would be impressive.
Yes. I saw a special on cable a couple of weeks ago (Discovery, or Learning
Channel...?) about parachute systems on high speed and altitude craft. Part
of it was an interview with Kittinger where he discusses a leak in the right
glove seal of his pressure suit. Blood was pooling in his glove and boiling.
He noticed the leak on the way up, but didn't report it and went ahead with
the jump anyway (70 000 ').
> In any case - the article made me realize why these records
> were never broken - it takes too much $$$. Kittinger was a
> goverment project and they have a lot of money. They were
> mainly interested in preparation for journey's into space,
> but once the Mercury & Apollo projects were on their way there
> was no need for such tests anymore - hence no more jumps. (dunno
> about the Russian, but probably also govt. supported).
The U.S. government was more interested in parachuting from the high-flying
"X" type aircraft (ie. the "X-15") if necessary more than the actual Mercury
space shots. The X-15 spends a lot more time in the thin atmosphere, so the
possibility of exiting and parachuting to safety was more likely than from
the actual "Space Rockets", which spend a few minutes at parachutable
altitudes, then are too far out for this to occur (re-entry, etc.).
> So sorry, the FAI and Guinness both recognize *OUR OWN* "Colonel Joe"
> (Col Joeseph W. Kittinger, Jr., USAF [ret]) as the record holder for
> longest delayed opening for his mind-boggling jump from 108,200 feet
> (32,979 meters) back in 1960
Well, actually a (6 foot diam.) drogue-fall from ~102,800 feet (31,333
meters), but who's counting? Please glance at least briefly at
http://www.wpafb.af.mil/museum/history/postwwii/pe.htm for some "Project
Don't let your patriotic fervor get in the way of facts, though ... I'm sure
someone could provide the information that Mssr. Fournier is using to
calculate his anticipated freefall speed and duration. Also see
http://www.fai.org/parachuting/records/#GPI for the *CORRECT* FAI recognition
in "Performance / Individual records". Your statement is wrong, so I won't
even take the time to see what Guinness has to say.
A RealAudio excerpt from a radio show is given at
http://www.earthsky.com/1997/es970201.html ; the "Malcom" mentioned therein
is not *my* brother Malcolm. If Mssr. Fournier achieves the altitude he is
targeting, apparently he will set a record even without the parachute jump.
Drogues *DO* slow one somewhat. Head down would be awesome! I jumped from 22K
ft. with a bunch of Brazillians, and the air was sufficiently "thinner" to
affect people's flying abilities on exit. Or was it the hypoxia? I don't think
so, since we were all using oxygen above 10K ft. I have a good deal of
experience with hypoxia, and didn't recognize the symptoms then.
He had that rare weird electricity about him -- that extremely wild and
heavy presence that you only see in a person who has abandoned all hope
of ever behaving "normally."
-- Hunter S. Thompson, "Fear and Loathing '72"
-----------== Posted via Deja News, The Discussion Network ==----------
http://www.dejanews.com/ Search, Read, Discuss, or Start Your Own
Yes, it's a drogue-fall, but there's absolutely no way to avoid that.
Wearing a pressure suit, in such thin (read non-existent) air makes for
a flat spin. Almost got Kittinger a couple of times, if I recall...
I stand corrected, anyway...
Opinions expressed are not
necessarily those of the
Boeing Company. Please
remove "NO-SPAM" to
> Hmmmm. It appears I am misinformed. Apparently, the FAI records have
> been updated since the last time I looked. I've never seen that Russian
> guy before. How embarassing. When did this show up? Last time I looked
> in the FAI records, it was Kittinger. Perhaps it's a matter of
> "Category". In this section, we see the "Individual" records, and yet
> Kittinger's jump was a big USAF project. Is Kittinger noted elsewhere in
> the FAI database?
I don't think you are misinformed, you merely need to qualify the information
you have. I feel positive that Col. Joe would not want his record
misrepresented in any way as you are suggesting. He doesn't need
misrepresentation. His contributions are unique.
Col. Joe was listed (as of the 1997 paper book I have access to) as holding
three aviation records, two ballooning and one aircraft. They are also on the
web site for your browsing pleasure. I have no doubt that he has held other
aviation records that have since been broken by others, but parachuting is not
The balloon ascent of 1960 *WAS* a Fédération Aéronautique Internationale
(FAI) record for the balloon category AA-15. It was broken 1961/04/05 by
Malcom Ross (US), who still holds the record.
The "Freefall Distance" category record has been held by Eugene Andreev (USSR)
The FAI records held by both Malcom Ross and Eugene Andreev will be broken if
Mssr. Fournier achieves his dual purpose.
There are any number of informal "World's Records". The 62-way star at Perris
was completed on the first attempt, and was considered a "World Record" until
it was broken a short while later by 65 at Davis (and a better-shaped star,
too). That also has since been broken. A 2-point 118 way is the current
sequential "World Record", and that will be broken next month at Sebastian
with 126. A 100 jewel is the largest ever built, and it was elusive for many,
many years. POPS 91-way breaks a "World Record" 75-way. 297 people at Anapa,
Russia built the largest freefall formation ever; the dive was planned for
302, so it was not FAI "complete".
None of the forementioned dives are FAI records. ALL FAI record categories for
parachuting are listed at http://www.fai.org/parachuting/records/, as I have
previously indicated. There is no FAI "Longest Delayed Opening" category.
The drogue-fall made by Col. Joe is not listed, because it does not meet the
criteria for any FAI category. Freefall is required(of course, we're not
talking CRW or accuracy here), and several other criteria, each of which is
carefully ascertained by FAI Judges whenever a person/group claims such a
record. The criteria are *absolute*; there is no room for error. A wrong
grip, a wrong slot, a drogue where freefall is required ... any of these
remove the event from the possibility of FAI record status. Rest assured that
the 246-way last July had every single grip, every single slot carefully
scrutinized for any possible error. Paperwork, including the dive plan
submitted to the Judges before each dive, each participant's FAI Sporting
License, etc. etc. was carefully scrutinized.
> Yes, it's a drogue-fall, but there's absolutely no way to avoid that.
> Wearing a pressure suit, in such thin (read non-existent) air makes for
> a flat spin. Almost got Kittinger a couple of times, if I recall...
Did you say "non-existent"? What do you think is keeping the balloon aloft? A
density difference between the enveloped helium and the ambient atmosphere
causes the balloon to float in the same way as a cork upon water.
A flat spin? What could possibly cause that, except deflected air from the
body in motion? The real reason is that freefall techniques were not
developed at the time, and the knowledge base that any 5-second delay student
has at hand now was still in the future then. The reason for the drogue-fall
was lack of knowledge of freefall technique. In Kittinger's own words
(describing the motivation behind Francis Beaupre's development of a drogue
system for the Excelsior Project):
"Flat spin imperils him if he tries to fall free to lower, livable altitudes
before opening his chute. His body may whirl like a runaway propeller. Flat
spin is a characteristic of any falling object that is aerodynamically
unstable. Dummies dropped from balloons up to 100,000 feet have attained 200
revolutions per minute, whereas tests show that 140 r.p.m. would be harmful,
The key words here are "aerodynamically unstable". Knowledge is the key, as
anyone who has progressed beyond student status will tell you, albeit
different words. We now have that knowledge. We didn't then (except Eugene
Andreev two years later). Any freefall training of any kind emphasizes
stability in freefall. Mssr. Fournier, with over 8000 jumps, probably has the
talent to freefall in any attitude he wants; I would feel somehow
disappointed if he didn't freefly it. What an opportunity!
> I stand corrected, anyway...
I would like to encourage you to open your mind to the world of skydiving. We
all come of age with many prejudices in our hearts. We need to leave some of
them behind, although I find I am strongly prejudiced against people that
blow their nose while I am eating oysters; actually it's the action, not the
Your initial post in this thread struck me as having the chest-thumping tone
of "us" vs. "them". I apologize if I misinterpreted you. The skydiving
community, you will find with experience, is a small, world-wide one. The
people you see at many drop zones are the same ones you will see when you go
to other DZs at many places all over the world. You make friends at one
place, you make friends at many. *THAT* is why I like skydiving.
Let us then cheer for Mssr. Michel-André Fournier. The records he is
attempting to set are elusive, expensive and dangerous.
I for one, am feeling positive vibes towards his project. I hope you do, too.
After all, all he did was string together a lot of old, well-known
-- H. L. Mencken, on Shakespeare