Colonel Kittinger's biography covers the standard fare: early years, various parts of his military career, a smattering of personnel life, and his harrowing story of flying combat missions in Vietnam and serving nearly eleven months as a POW. However, the bulk of the work provides an inside view of Project Excelsior and other related Air Force high-altitude test programs in which he participated, as well as his post military life in competitive ballooning. In addition to his record-setting skydive, Kittinger set several aviation records.
He was the first man to fly a balloon solo across the Atlantic Ocean and set gas-balloon world distance records in two balloon classes.
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An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while. Read preview. Of the jumps from Excelsior , Kittinger said: .
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There's no way you can visualize the speed. There's nothing you can see to see how fast you're going. You have no depth perception. If you're in a car driving down the road and you close your eyes, you have no idea what your speed is.
Epic Adventures-Col Joe Kittinger USAF
It's the same thing if you're free falling from space. There are no signposts. You know you are going very fast, but you don't feel it. You don't have a mph wind blowing on you. I could only hear myself breathing in the helmet.
Kittinger set historical numbers for highest balloon ascent, highest parachute jump, longest-duration drogue-fall four minutes , and fastest speed by a human being through the atmosphere. His records for highest parachute jump and fastest velocity stood for 52 years, until they were broken in by Felix Baumgartner. He and the astronomer William C. In , after returning to the operational air force, Kittinger was approached by civilian amateur parachutist Nick Piantanida for assistance on Pintandia's Strato Jump project, an effort to break the previous freefall records of both Kittinger and Soviet Air Force officer Yevgeni Andreyev.
Kittinger refused to participate in the effort, believing Piantanida's approach to the project was too reckless. Kittinger later served three combat tours of duty during the Vietnam War , flying a total of combat missions. Kittinger was shot down on May 11, , just before the end of his third tour of duty. Reich, Lieutenant Colonel Kittinger was leading a flight of Phantoms approximately five miles northwest of Thai Nguyen , North Vietnam , when they were engaged by a flight of enemy MiG fighters.
Kittinger and his wingman were chasing a MiG when Kittinger's Phantom II was hit by an air-to-air missile from another MiG that damaged the Phantom's starboard wing and set the aircraft on fire. Kittinger and Reich ejected a few miles from Thai Nguyen and were soon captured and taken to the city of Hanoi.
Come Up And Get Me: An Autobiography Of Colonel Joseph Kittinger
During the same engagement, Kittinger's wingman, Captain S. Nichols, shot down the MiG they had been chasing. Kittinger was put through rope torture soon after his arrival at the POW compound and this made a lasting impression on him. Kittinger was the senior ranking officer SRO among the newer prisoners of war, i. In Kittinger's autobiography " Come Up and Get Me " by Kittinger and Craig Ryan , Kittinger emphasized being very serious about maintaining the military structure he considered essential to survival.
Kittinger and Reich were returned to American hands during Operation Homecoming on March 28, , and they continued their air force careers, with Kittinger having been promoted to full colonel while in captivity. Kittinger accumulated 7, flying hours in the air force, including combat flying hours during three tours during the Vietnam War. In addition, he has flown over 9, hours in various civilian aircraft.
Kittinger received the following awards and decorations during his USAF career: . Kittinger retired from the air force as a colonel in and initially went to work for Martin Marietta now Lockheed Martin Corporation in Orlando, Florida.
Still interested in ballooning, he set a gas balloon world distance record for the AA size class since broken of 3, Kittinger also participated in the Gordon Bennett Cup in ballooning in ranked third and ranked 12th. As of , Kittinger has been assisting balloonist Jonathan Trappe's attempt to be the first to cross the Atlantic by cluster balloon.
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Texas Governor Rick Perry cited Kittinger's work, as did the Texas state senate with a special resolution presented during the dedication ceremony attended by Kittinger and his wife, Sherry. The Colonel Joseph W. Kittinger was honored at a ceremony in Caribou, Maine , the launch point for his solo trans-Atlantic balloon flight. He also served as the guest of honor at the community's sesquicentennial celebration.
On February 20, , Kittinger visited his alma mater , the University of Florida , and spoke to over students and faculty about his role in the Red Bull Stratos Mission. Kittinger, a UF alumnus, told his story of when he took the ,foot jump from a high-altitude balloon. Located on the southwest corner of the Orlando Executive Airport , at the corner of Crystal Lake Drive and South Street, the park was named in Kittinger's honor, but was temporarily closed and partially demolished circa — in order to create a stormwater runoff retention area to permit a highway expansion project of the State Road East-West Expressway.
In March , the park was reopened at its previous location. The National Museum of the U.
Disassembled in Texas and transported via two semi-trailers over a period of several days, the aircraft arrived in Orlando on July 22, , and underwent a total restoration by a team of volunteers at Orlando Executive Airport. Following restoration, it was subsequently moved to its current location on the airport, remounted on its new pylon, and formally dedicated on December 14, From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.
Joseph W. Kittinger II. Colonel Joseph W. This section of a biography of a living person needs additional citations for verification. Please help by adding reliable sources. Contentious material about living persons that is unsourced or poorly sourced must be removed immediately , especially if potentially libelous or harmful. Project Excelsior.
Air Force . Main article: Project Excelsior.
Lord, take care of me now. American Experience. Retrieved 2 January Kittinger, Jr". Retrieved Archived from the original on