Welcome to JTC Inc.

Chaps: because if they had an ass, they'd just be called pants.

Monday, May 26, 2008


Headline news today is the record-setting-skydive attempt by retired French paratrooper Michel Fournier, who plans to jump out of a hot air balloon on the edge of the stratosphere (the threshold of space, mind you), and plummet towards the earth. Delayed several times, the launch crew has been awaiting the right conditions. While they’re waiting, I thought I’d give them my views on this brilliant idea.

It makes so much sense that frankly, I’m embarrassed for all humanity that it took someone so long to do this. This whole thing seems like a no-brainer to me. Here is what the article calls “an intimidating set of risks”:

  • Upper-level wind shear that could damage the balloon (Fournier's first two attempts in 2002 and 2003 ended when wind gusts shredded his balloon before it even became airborne).
  • If the apparatus he’s riding in fails within the first 1,000 feet of ascent, there will not be enough time for Fournier to bail out, or for the balloon's parachute system to deploy. The engineers call this low-altitude segment the “Dead Zone”.
  • When he first exits the apparatus, because the air is so thin, he will not be able to correct his path by manoeuvring his body in the air – if he goes into a spin, he probably will not be able to recover before he blacks out from the force of acceleration. After falling about 15,000 feet, Mr. Fournier will pass the speed of sound. Even a minor kick could initiate an unrecoverable tumble.
  • If he is unconscious when he lands, his team must find him and remove his helmet before his spacesuit's air supply runs out. He could land anywhere in a 40 kilometer radius.

If it works (is there really a chance of failure here?):
“He will land, get some high-paid speaking gigs and take his place in aviation history”. High-paid speaking gigs? Aviation-fucking-history? Fournier’s got it made!

If it doesn’t work:
He will die, and take his place in aviation history. Just like this guy.

No comments: