I routinely look around the web for notable historic events. I just found this on Project Excelsior, a series of mega-altitude test jumps in 1959 and 1960. The Air Force wanted to figure out how pilots could survive bailouts if required, miles above the Earth.
The Cold War is the historical context for this episode of exceptional courage. Tensions were high worldwide, and involved a race for technological supremacy. Project Excelsior sent Capt. Joseph Kittinger to the very edge of outer space to test a new parachute system. Kittinger’s third jump on August 16, 1960, was from 102,800 feet, almost 20 miles up there.
Check out 3:19 of this video, the best I found, where the camera records the edge of the atmosphere, the beginning of outer space. The void. I personally am as scared as I am impressed by that. (Maybe less coffee will help…) Kittinger is awesome.
Here is another (shorter, 2:04) video from that tremendous mission:
Check out the end as he walks off. Nothin’ like a smoke after a hard day of leaping from space! That was a very different era, kids.