The LONG, LONELY LEAP
Captain Joseph W. Kittinger, Jr., USAF,
with Martin Caidin
With a Foreword by Colonel John Paul Stapp, USAF (MC) and an Epilogue by Captain Marvin Feldstein, USAF (MC) ILLUSTRATED WITH PHOTOGRAPHS IN FULL COLOR AND BLACK-AND-WHITE In an open gondola hung beneath a shimmering cloud of plastic, a man ascends to the awesome height of 102,800 feet. He looks about him at a world that is not the world of man. The atmosphere of his planet lies beneath his feet. The velvet blackness of space is close enough to reach out and touch. He is absolutely alone. Then he jumps . . . The Long, Lonely Leap is the intensely dramatic and unique personal story of Captain Joseph W. Kittinger, Jr. and his great parachute jumps from record altitudes in pioneering research for the United States Air Force. Beginning with his boyhood and youth in Florida, where he explored wilderness waterways and was a professional speedboat racer, Captain Kittinger describes his experiences as an Air Force aviation cadet, fighterbomber pilot and test pilot. In 1957 he soared to 96,000 feet in a sealed capsule as test pilot of Project Man High, the high-altitude balloon program studying man's ability to function usefully as part of a man-machine system in a near-space environment. Then, after work with the Escape Section of the Aerospace Medical Laboratory, Captain Kittinger became Chief and volunteer test subject of Project Excelsior, the program aimed at developing a parachute by which a man could survive escape at extreme altitudes. To put the new Beaupre chute, and related equipment developed by the team, to practical test, Captain Kittinger made his three great jumps-Excelsior I, II, and III. These courageous jumps reached their climax in his famous record leap from the very edge of space itself, almost 20 miles above the earth. This drop included a free fall lasting more than an incredible 4 1/2 minutes, during which Captain Kittinger reached a falling speed of 614 miles per hour before his parachute finally opened at 18,000 feet. Captain Kittinger describes the preparations for the balloon ascent, and the actual ascent itself. He tells of floating for eleven minutes in the alien world of space, 102,800 feet up. Then . . . the descent. Using an actual tape recording of his words as he fell, Kittinger relates his impressions, vividly re-creating this magnificent and terrifying experience. With Captain Kittinger working in a unique partnership with Martin Caidin, renowned aviation writer, pilot, and author of over two dozen books, the two men flew and spent months together to re-create the gripping events of this story. Their fast friendship and combined talents have enabled Captain Kittinger to give us a book that is both a suspenseful account of his own highly dangerous work and the story of Air Force efforts to develop new equipment to make it possible for pilots safely to abandon their craft at the great altitudes now being reached. The Long, Lonely Leap is a truly magnificent account of the personal adventures of a pioneer of the exciting new frontiers of modern aviation and space exploration. Joseph W. Kittinger, Jr., USAF, with Martin Caidin. The Long, Lonely Leap. New York: E.P. Dutton & Company, 300 Park Ave. South, New York 10, N.Y., 1961.