By Joe Kittinger
Many years after his unlock from a North Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp in 1973 Colonel Joseph Kittinger retired from the Air strength. stressed and unchallenged, he became to ballooning, a life-long ardour in addition to a relentless diversion for his mind's eye in the course of his imprisonment. His basic aim used to be a solitary circumnavigation of the globe, and in its pursuit he set a number of ballooning distance documents, together with the 1st solo crossing of the Atlantic in 1984. however the aeronautical feats that first made him an American hero had happened 1 / 4 of a century past. by the point Kittinger used to be shot down in Vietnam in 1972, his Air strength profession was once already mythical. He had made a reputation for himself at Holloman Air strength base close to Alamagordo, New Mexico, as a try pilot who helped display that egress survival for pilots at excessive altitudes was once attainable in emergency events. paradoxically, Kittinger and his pre-astronaut colleagues might aid propel americans into house utilizing the world's oldest flying computer - the balloon. Kittinger's paintings on undertaking Excelsior - which concerned bold high-altitude bailout exams - earned him the prestigious Flying pass lengthy prior to he earned a set of medals in Vietnam. regardless of the various accolades, Kittinger's proudest second continues to be his unfastened fall from 102,800 toes in which he completed a pace of 614 miles according to hour. during this long-awaited autobiography, Kittinger joins writer Craig Ryan to rfile an extraordinary occupation.
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I was in charge, and I wasn’t shy about letting them know it. We’d gotten only about 30 feet from shore when one of the guys stood up and started swaying back and forth. I guess he thought it was funny. It was just a few seconds before the duck boat flipped us all into the water. We had to take the Evinrude apart and dry out the ignition coil before we could get it started again. I have no idea how the two men finally got to their own boat, but it wouldn’t have bothered me if they’d had to swim the whole way.
After a lengthy briefing the following morning, we taxied out and climbed up to 8,000 feet for our first gunnery run. The aerial target was a banner about 30 feet long and 10 feet high, towed about 3,000 feet behind a B-26 medium bomber. 50-caliber machine guns, although we used only two when shooting gunnery. The bullets had been painted four different colors, with each aircraft having its own color in order to facilitate identification of target hits. The flight commander always had the red bullets, with the other three aircraft using green, yellow, and blue.
Johns. I learned the mysteries of the river and became a pretty fair boatman. We had a little 12-foot john boat we’d use for duck hunting. We’d pull the motor off the John Henry, stick it on the duck boat, and off we’d go. One day when I was eleven, my father offered me the chance to transport a couple of drunken fishermen a few miles upriver to where they had their boat tied up. I was proud to get the assignment, but I was a bit worried about these particular guys. Three people was the maximum load that poor little boat could handle, and I was worried about it tipping over if the men became unruly.
Come Up and Get Me: An Autobiography of Colonel Joseph Kittinger by Joe Kittinger