Break a record and be famous or die trying

5 Nick Piantanida

Nick Piantanida was selling pets when he discovered skydiving, which led to him going on hundreds of jumps. After learning the Soviets had the record for the longest free fall, Piantanida decided this was a record he had to beat. While Piantanida was an experienced jumper, he was not a professional, nor was he in the Air Force (usually the people who perform such feats are members of the Air Force). However, Piantanida was able to get funding from sponsors. On Piantanida’s first attempt, high winds tore the roof of his gondola, Strato Jump I, forcing him to jump at 4,900 m before parachuting into St. Paul, Minnesota city dump. On February 2, 1966, on his second attempt using the Strato Jump II, he reached 37642 meters, flying higher than anyone prior to him. However, he could not detach his oxygen hose and had to detach the balloon from the gondola. According to Fédération Aéronautique Internationale, since he returned to Earth without the balloon, he didn’t get the official record. Also, since he didn’t jump he didn’t get a parachute record either. He had third attempt on May 1, 1966, at the 17373 meters mark his suit depressurized. The control room immediately released the parachute on the gondola. Piantanida was alive when the gondola reached the Earth, but the lack of oxygen caused him to go into a coma, and he died 4 months later.

Nick Piantanida

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