High Altitude

No computer programming stuff today; just some fun for Friday.

As I'm writing this Felix Baumgartner's attempt to set the world record for skydiving height by diving from a helium balloon has been scrubbed due to bad weather. This attempt has got me thinking of my good friend JB, who back in 1982 set the world record (*) for hang gliding height by similarly using a helium balloon.

JB is one of those people who proves the truth of the saying that you really can do anything you put your mind to, as he's been a world-record breaking hang glider pilot, skydiver, balloonist, airplane pilot, ultra-marathon runner, shuttle astronaut candidate (**), upper-atmosphere physicist, microgravity physicist, nuclear physicist, father, and I'm probably missing a dozen more accomplishments in there. And teacher! When I was a child he taught me useful skills like how to estimate large numbers, how to do trigonometry, and how to do calculus, usually by pointing out things on the beach and then doing math in the sand, like Archimedes. How many grains of sand are on this beach? How far away is the horizon when you stand on the roof of the cottage? What shape path does this rock make in the air when you throw it? These sorts of questions fascinated me as a child, and, I suppose, still do.

Anyway, I recently learned that JB has uploaded the short film his brother Bims made to document the successful attempt at the record. Check it out, and enjoy the hairstyles of the 1980s: Project Hang Glide

(*) It's in the 1988 Guinness Book of World Records.

(**) His microgravity experiment ended up flying on the Vomit Comet rather than the shuttle.