A "press release" on your site says that Australian Rodd Millner plans a high altitude parachute jump that "will become the first man to break the sound barrier unaided." Although his planned altitude and speed may very well set a new record (assuming everything goes as planned), he will not be the first human to break the sound barrier unaided. United States Air Force Colonel Joe Kittenger holds that honor, which he earned during a 102,800 ft. altitude parachute jump with Project Excelsior on August 16, 1960.
In fact, based on the quote of Mr. Millner in the article, it sounds like he plans nothing more than to reproduce the tests done by Col. Kittenger forty years ago--but wants to claim it as a "first." The only real difference between the first jump and Mr. Millner's planned jump is the higher altitude and the addition of high-quality film equpment (Col. Kittenger's jump was also filmed, but on much older equipment). I don't mean to detract from Mr. Millner's parachuting skills: I'm sure he is a expert. But he won't be the first person to do this, just the most recent person.
For reference, I offer the following US Air Force Museum web pages:
Jack Burke, Marietta, Georgia
Fearless Australian ex-commando, Rodd Millner, will jump from the blackness of space and parachute 130,000 feet (40,000 metres) back to earth in the most audacious and spectacular human adventure ever attempted.
In challenging the boundaries of science and technology, Millner will free-fall from the vacuum of space, through the frigid air of the earth's upper atmosphere before finally descending to earth.
During his astonishing descent, where he will reach a speed of between 1600-1800 kilometres per hour (994 - 1118 miles per hour), Millner will become the first man to break the sound barrier unaided before opening his parachute to fall safely to earth.
Millner's amazing adventure, known as ``Space Jump,'' will be filmed on 70mm film and High Definition video tape to create one of the world's most breathtaking giant format films to be produced. The film will be produced by international film company, Becker Entertainment.
In March 2002, Millner will ascend from just outside Alice Springs, in the centre of Australia, in a special high altitude helium balloon manufactured by the Australian Defence Force Academy.
As Millner climbs into space, he will gain a bird's eye view of spectacular Uluru (Ayers Rock) in the north east and the magnificent Kakadu in the far north of the Northern Territory.
The special balloon will be the size of two football fields in dimension and could accommodate two jumbo jets side by side.
It will take Millner approximately two and a half hours to ascend to 130,000 feet (40,000 metres) in his special balloon before taking less than 10 minutes to parachute to earth.
Wearing a special high-tech suit, Millner will become the fastest unaided man, the highest skydiver, the longest free-faller and the highest balloonist ever to live.
The top secret Space Jump project has been 12 months in its research and development and will be managed by some of the most experienced high altitude balloon operators in the world and backed by one of the finest aviation teams ever assembled.
Using the latest robotic and film technology, Millner's special Space Jump suit will be equipped with a series of cameras to film his extraordinary experience.
In addition, there will be:
These cameras will result in millions of viewers around the world experiencing Millner's heart-stopping journey to the edge of space and back again in the most spectacular giant format film ever produced.
Project Director of Space Jump, Walt Missingham, said millions of dollars had already been invested into the project.
``We have involved a special team of experts across a wide range of scientific and technological areas to ensure this project is successfully conducted with optimum safety and with spectacular visual effect,'' said Missingham.
To arrange interviews with either Walt Missingham or Rodd Millner, please contact:
A graphic featuring details of Space Jump is available at www.aapmedianet.com.au