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Entries in Skydiver (5)

Monday
Mar252013

Skydive Instructor, Student Killed in Florida Jump

ABC News(ZEPHYRHILLS, Fla.) -- Police are investigating how an experienced sky diving instructor and his student fell more than 13,000 feet to their deaths and did not deploy their main parachutes at a popular southwest Florida camp.

Pasco County sheriff’s authorities identified the victims as 41-year-old instructor Orvar Arnarson and 25-year-old student Andrimar Pordarson. The men were part of a group from Iceland, training and vacationing at Skydive City in Zephyrhills, Fla., on Saturday.

T.K. Hayes, general manager and president of Skydive City, said it appears Arnarson and Pordarson didn’t activate their main parachutes.

“There’s a multitude of scenarios. They lost track of altitude, weren’t paying attention for whatever reason if they were distracted, most likely by something else going on. Who knows,” Hayes said Sunday.

Both men had backup automatic activation devices, which deploy if the main parachutes are not opened in time. The backup chutes, the company says, did not fully inflate before they hit the ground.

The two men had successfully completed two other jumps Saturday morning with 20 other people. The men jumped separately, not in tandem. When Arnarson and Pordarson did not return from their third jump, Pasco County sheriff’s department launched a search to look for the two skydivers.

Following a nine-hour search, the pair were finally located in a wooded area near Zephyrhills Municipal Airport, about a mile away from where they were supposed to land.

Authorities hope a camera worn by one of the men may give them some clues into what happened during the jump.

“We’re reviewing the tape. We’re reviewing anything that may have been said, on the camera,” Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco said.

Last year across the U.S., 19 skydivers died out of 3.1 million jumps, according to the United States Parachute Association.

Arnarson was a seasoned veteran of the dare-devilish sport, who reportedly had thousands of successful jumps under his belt. For Pordarson, this was his eighth jump.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio

Tuesday
Oct092012

Felix Baumgartner Set to Break Sound Barrier with 120,000-Foot Skydive

Red Bull(ROSWELL, N.M.) -- In a jump set to break the sound barrier, as well as the world record for highest skydive, Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner is ready to leap from the edge of space -- 23 miles above Roswell, N.M. -- on Tuesday.

When he jumps, Baumgartner will accelerate from zero to 690 miles per hour in 35 seconds, and become supersonic for almost a minute of the roughly 10-minute leap.  This feat could ordinarily only be accomplished by a supersonic jet, or perhaps the space shuttle.  But the 43-year-old daredevil believes he can do it using only his body.

"I practiced this for so many years, and now, we are almost there, so this is my biggest dream," he said.

Baumgartner's dream would be most people's nightmare.  To get to 120,000 feet above Earth -- four times higher than most passenger jets fly -- Baumgartner will hitch a ride on a capsule attached to a balloon 55 stories tall.

"We are using a helium balloon to get to the stratosphere, but to get there we have to transit the death zone," Jonathan Clark Stratos, the project's medical director, said.

The pressure is so low at 120,000 feet that if Baumgartner's suit fails, his lungs would burst and his blood would boil.  But the most dangerous moment of the jump comes when Baumgartner opens the capsule door and jumps out.

Threats of extreme cold, extreme temperature fluctuations, the possibility of an uncontrolled flat spin -- which could hit 220 rpm -- drogue chute failure, spacesuit puncture, and life support systems' failing are all potential threats for Tuesday's feat.

Baumgartner has successfully leaped twice from lower altitudes, but 120,000 feet will shatter the record set 52 years ago by former Air Force pilot Joe Kittinger, who is now 84 years old and admitted he was a little jealous.

"Hell yes," Kittinger said, when asked about Baumgartner's exploit.  "If he decides he doesn't want to do it, I will go."

Baumgartner, who has a "Born to Fly" tattoo on his arm, said not a chance.

"It's just me.  I like paragliding.  I like helicopters.  I just love to be near the sky, that is my second home, that is where I belong," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Oct082012

Skydiver Felix Baumgartner Lives by 'Born to Fly' Mantra

Red Bull(NEW YORK) -- "Born to Fly" reads the tattoo on 43-year-old Felix Baumgartner's arm.  When he steps off the ledge of his capsule Tuesday morning, 120,000 feet above Earth, he will be flying faster than the speed of sound.  His body will go from zero to 690 mph in 34 seconds, and he will be supersonic for almost a minute -- free-falling for 5 minutes and 35 seconds.

"Born to Fly" isn't just his mantra; Baumgartner lives it as a skydiver who has flown across the English Channel and dreamed of even bigger feats.  For five years, he has been training with a top-notch team from Red Bull on a project dubbed Stratos -- Mission from the Edge of Space.

Baumgartner plans to ride in a capsule carried aloft by massive helium filled to 120,000 feet.  Only one person has done this before -- the legendary Air Force Col. Joe Kittinger in 1960.

The balloon carrying Baumgartner aloft is incredibly large and just as fragile.  It can't launch with winds greater than 6 mph, so the team's meteorologist will be watching -- and waiting -- for fair weather.

If this ambitious mission succeeds, Baumgartner will break several records:

  • First human to break the speed of sound in in free-fall (Mach 1 more than 690 mph)
  • Highest free-fall altitude --120,000 feet (Kittinger hit 105,000 feet in 1960)
  • Highest manned balloon flight at 120,000 feet (previous record was 113,740 feet in 1961)
  • Longest free-fall (Baumgartner's team expects 5 minutes, 35 seconds; Kittinger's was 4 minutes, 36 seconds in 1960)
  • Largest manned balloon in history at 550 feet tall, with a volume of 30 million cubic feet

Dr. Jonathan Clark is the chief medical officer for this effort.  He is a former NASA flight surgeon currently with the National Space Biomedical Research Institute and can recite the risks of this ride in his sleep.

This, he says, is a very hostile environment: "We are using a helium balloon to get to the stratosphere, but to get there we have to transit the death zone."

It is dangerous.  Every member of the team acknowledges the threats of extreme cold, extreme temperature fluctuations, the possibility of an uncontrolled flat spin that could hit 220 rpm, drogue chute failure, spacesuit puncture, and life support systems failure.

But Baumgartner told ABC News he doesn't think of any of this when he is standing on the step of his capsule looking down at Earth.

"You hear yourself breathing.  You can see the curvature of Earth, the sky is totally black.  It is a kind of overwhelming view because you have never seen a black sky, but then you can't stand there forever," he said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Friday
Oct052012

Daredevil Felix Baumgartner Preps for 120,000-Foot Skydive

Red Bull(ROSWELL, N.M.) -- Felix Baumgartner has a tattoo on his arm: "Born to Fly."  He will put that to the ultimate test on Monday, when he attempts a record-setting, death-defying jump from the edge of space.

"I practiced this for so many years and now we are almost there," he said.  "So this is my biggest dream, and we are one step closer."

One step closer to a dream that would be a nightmare for most people -- stepping out of a capsule 120,000 feet (23 miles) above Roswell, N.M., to plummet back to Earth at 690 mph.  If all goes as hoped, he will be in freefall for almost five minutes, becoming the first person to break the sound barrier outside an aircraft.  He will break records that have stood for 52 years.  

Red Bull is sponsoring this mission, called Stratos, and its team of 200 has worked for five years to make this mission a success.

Baumgartner already jumped from 90,000 feet in July.  That was practice.

Every member of the team acknowledges the risks: extreme cold, the vacuum of space, temperature fluctuations, an uncontrolled flat spin that could hit 220 rpm, drogue chute failure, spacesuit puncture, and life support systems failure.

Baumgartner will ascend in a pressurized capsule at dawn, in a balloon that will be 700 feet tall when filled with helium.  The preparations start at midnight, with an hour or so to oxygenate Baumgartner to purge his body of nitrogen.

The ascent to 120,000 feet will take a couple of hours.  Once Baumgartner reaches altitude, he will depressurize the capsule, step out onto a ledge, and dive back down to Earth -- a plunge that could take seven minutes.  He will have parachutes to slow him down when he hits 5,000 feet or terminal velocity. 

Terminal velocity occurs when a falling body experiences zero acceleration -- as he gets closer to Earth, the atmosphere gets denser so he will slow down and there will be less friction on his spacesuit.  Or so they hope.

Dr. Jonathan Clark heads the medical team and ticks off the risks on his fingers: "If you are going to be above 50,000 feet you wear a pressure suit, above 63,000 feet the water in your body would start to boil and your body is 70 percent water."

If Baumgartner succeeds he will break the record set on Aug. 16, 1960, when Air Force Col. Joe Kittinger jumped from a balloon at an altitude of 102,900 feet.  He fell for almost five minutes before opening a parachute to slow his decent 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.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

Monday
Jul232012

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







ABC News Radio