It was on this day 16 November 1959 that American balloonist Joe Kittinger made the first high altitude jump. As part of the Execlsior 1 test programme they wanted to test the first ‘space suit’ and because there wasn’t a plane that could fly that high an enormous balloon took Kittinger to 76,400 feet from where he jumped.
He landed safely and the next year he jumped from 102,800ft – a record which stood until Felix Baumgartner jumped from 128,000ft in 2012 and his record was broken by Google executive Alan Eustace in 2014 by parachuting from 135,890ft. ( Story in WIRED magazine)
Joe Kittinger triumphed again in 1984 by becoming the first pilot to fly a balloon solo across the Atlantic. He died aged 94.