Entries in Roswell (2)


Skydiver Set for Record-Breaking Jump from Edge of Space

Red Bull(ROSWELL, New Mexico) -- It seems appropriate that Roswell, ground zero for UFO hunters, is hosting the mission to the edge of space -- because the sight of daredevil Felix Baumgartner diving back to Earth from 90,000 feet will certainly spark new UFO conspiracy theories.

Baumgartner will go from zero to perhaps 509 mph in 30 seconds when he steps out of his space capsule Tuesday morning. He hit 365 mph when he jumped from 71,000 feet in March -- and he will go supersonic in August when he dives from 120,000 feet. That's zero to 690 mph in 25 seconds -- a human body breaking the sound barrier without an airplane. Most people go to the edge of space or beyond in a rocket -- Baumgartner is going up in a capsule carried aloft by a huge helium balloon.

Most of us would never willingly step out of an airplane to skydive from 3,000 feet. So you have to wonder why Felix Baumgartner does this. He knows the risks and says he accepts the danger. He canceled an attempt Monday morning because of high winds.

Weather is critical because the massive balloon is fragile and tears easily; it can't launch with winds in excess of 4 mph or under heavy cloud cover. Meteorologist Don Day also needs to consider where winds will push Baumgartner when he lands -- preferably not in the mountains west of the launch site.

"The pressure is huge, and we not only have to endure but excel," he said. "We're excellently prepared, but it's never going to be a fun day, I'm risking my life, after all."

Red Bull is financing this daredevil skydive from space, dubbed Stratos. Five years of planning by a team of experts, many volunteering their services, to break several records in one breathtaking plunge back to Earth:

  • First person to break the sound barrier outside of an aircraft.
  • Record for freefall from the highest altitude.
  • Longest freefall time -- expected five minutes 35 seconds.
  • Highest manned balloon flight.

This daredevil dive from near space is not a first. The Austrian Baumgartner will be breaking a 52-year-old record, and he wisely recruited the man who set the record, the legendary Col. Joe Kittinger, for advice. On Aug. 16, 1960, Kittinger jumped from a balloon at an altitude of 102,900 feet -- and fell for almost five minutes before opening a parachute to slow his descent at 18,000 feet. He made history for the highest balloon ascent, the highest parachute jump and the fastest speed by a human being through the atmosphere.

"Somebody will beat them someday, but when they do it, they'll be doing it to beat a record," Kittinger said in a 2008 interview with ABC's Jonathan Karl. "We didn't make those records at the time just for that purpose."

He now says he is happy to cede his record to Baumgartner -- but joked, "I told him if he changes his mind, I am ready to take over for him."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Real-Life X-Files Reference 'Flying Saucers' in New Mexico

Thinkstock/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) -- Flying saucer sightings? Reports of three-foot-tall aliens? Secret memos about suspicious objects recovered near Roswell, N.M.? They're all included in the thousands of declassified government documents posted to the FBI's new online "Vault."

Earlier this month, the FBI announced its revamped online reading room that contains more than 2,000 government files. While the documents had been previously available to the public, not all had been digitized and easily searchable online.

Among the so-called "X-files" are once-classified reports dating back to the 1940s and 1950s detailing Air Force investigations into "flying discs" and the "bodies of human shape" discovered inside them.

In one report from March 1950, Guy Hottel, a special agent with the FBI, said he received information from an Air Force investigator about flying saucers found in New Mexico.

"They were described as being circular in shape with raised centers, approximately 50-feet in diameter," he wrote. "Each one was occupied by three bodies of human shape but only 3 feet tall, dressed in a metallic cloth of a very fine texture. Each body was bandaged in a manner very similar to the blackout suits used by speed flyers and test pilots."

The informant, whose name is redacted in the file, said he thought the saucer was spotted in New Mexico because a high-powered government radar in the area interfered with the saucer's controlling mechanism.

At least one document will disappoint those who believe a spaceship landed at Roswell, N.M., probably the most famous UFO conspiracy theory. The document from 1947, with the word "Roswell" handwritten across the top, says that a "flying disc" was recovered near Roswell, N.M.

"The disc is hexagonal in shape and was suspended from a balloon by cable," the document said. "The object found resembles a high-altitude weather balloon with a radar reflector."

Other reports once marked "restricted" and "confidential" detail sightings of mysterious flashing lights and other "unidentified aerial objects."

Copyright 2011 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio