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Joe Kittinger is not a household name with the general public, but explorers sure know who he is. In 1960, as research for NASA’s then-fledgling space program, he rode a helium balloon to 102,800 feet above Earth in a space suit, then jumped out, eclipsing 600 mph during free-fall. At 15,000 feet, his parachute deployed and he gently floated to the ground in the New Mexico desert. Kittinger proved that fighter pilots and astronauts could eject at extreme altitudes and survive. Waiting for him was a congratulatory telegram from the Mercury astronauts. Kittinger’s record stood until 2012, when Red Bull’s Felix Baumgartner, later Google’s Alan Eustace, broke it. Joe was cap-com for Baumgartner’s jump.

During this lecture, former Board member Jim Clash (FR’99) will interview Kittinger about his big leap, his book “Come Up And Get Me” (Neil Armstrong wrote the Foreword) and his days as a fighter pilot during the Vietnam War where he was shot down, then tortured for 11 months at the infamous “Hanoi Hilton.” Most recently, Kittinger, at 93, braved a 170-mph thrill ride in a stock car at Daytona International Speedway with Clash behind the wheel, another topic of discussion.

Streaming live here on explorers.org, our YouTube Channel, and our Facebook Live  Monday, January 24th at 7:00 pm ET.

Speakers

Joseph Kittinger

Colonel Joseph William Kittinger II  is a retired officer in the United States Air Force and a Command Pilot. His initial operational assignment was in fighter aircraft, then he participated in high-altitude balloon flight projects Manhigh and Excelsior  from 1956 to 1960. He set a world record for the highest skydive: 102,800 feet on August 16, 1960. He was also the first man to make a solo crossing of the Atlantic Ocean in a gas balloon, and the first man to fully witness the curvature of the Earth.

As a fighter pilot during the Vietnam War, Kittinger shot down a North Vietnamese MiG-21 jet fighter. He was later shot down himself, spending 11 months as a prisoner of war in a North Vietnamese prison.

In 2012, at age 84,Kittinger participated in the Red Bull Stratos project as capsule communicator, directing Felix Baumgartner on his 24-mile freefall from Earth’s stratosphere, which broke Kittinger’s own 53-year-old record.

Jim Clash

James Clash FR’99 is a participatory adventure journalist and author who has engaged in and written about various challenging exploits. He has written for Forbes, AskMen, Huffington Post, Bloomberg Businessweek, and Automobile. Clash has written three books, and is a fellow and former board member of The Explorers Club, and is also ticket holder 610 on Virgin Galactic for a flight to space.

January 24,2022
January 24, 2022
7:00 pm ET
7:00 pm ET
Joseph Kittinger
Joseph Kittinger
Come Up and Get Me

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