By Joe Kittinger
Many years after his liberate from a North Vietnamese prisoner-of-war camp in 1973 Colonel Joseph Kittinger retired from the Air strength. stressed and unchallenged, he grew to become to ballooning, a life-long ardour in addition to a continuing diversion for his mind's eye in the course of his imprisonment. His fundamental objective 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 prior. 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 attempt pilot who helped exhibit that egress survival for pilots at excessive altitudes was once attainable in emergency occasions. mockingly, Kittinger and his pre-astronaut colleagues might support propel americans into area 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 celebrated Flying move lengthy ahead of he earned a set of medals in Vietnam. regardless of the numerous accolades, Kittinger's proudest second is still his unfastened fall from 102,800 ft in which he accomplished a velocity of 614 miles in line with hour. during this long-awaited autobiography, Kittinger joins writer Craig Ryan to rfile an surprising occupation.
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Additional info for Come Up and Get Me: An Autobiography of Colonel Joseph Kittinger
Of course, the old hands got the first flights, while all of us lieutenants drooled and waited our turn. We attended all the debriefings, hanging on every word. We all wanted to make sure our initial flights were good ones. This would not be the time to screw up. Finally, on November 9, I got my first solo. Wow! I’d been assigned my very own F-84, number 209, along with my own crew chief, Tech. Sgt. Cheita, who immediately inscribed our names on the canopy of our aircraft. We polished that thing until it glistened.
I drove my last race in January 1949 in Lakeland. Wind is the big enemy of hydroplane racers, and it was blowing like a storm that day. In these conditions, you really have to concentrate because if a gust catches you the wrong way, over you go. I was leading and coming up fast on a turning buoy at full throttle because the number two boat was right on my tail, maybe 2 feet behind, and just waiting for me to make a mistake. As I dug into the turn, the wind got under the bow and flipped me like a coin.
We were silent. Capt. Govan was summoned into the office next. Milt and I waited for another half-hour. Finally, we were told to go in. The colonel informed us that Lt. Walker had crashed and been killed. ” I replied that we had indeed been briefed several times on the procedure. He nodded and dismissed us. The group commander was very young for a full colonel, and Doak Walker had been a close friend and drinking buddy. The colonel took the loss hard and very personally. He blamed Capt. Govan for Walker’s death, which, as far as Milt and I were concerned, was very unfair.