Red Bull Stratos: Meet Joe Kittinger

The mission consultant talks about how he's happy for Felix Baumgartner to break his world record

© Red Bull Content Pool

On August 16, 1960, Joe Kittinger made history as he ascended to over 100,000 feet in a high-altitude balloon and jumped to Earth, setting four world records in the process.

Now a Mission Consultant for the Red Bull Stratos team which intends to break each of the records he himself set, there is nobody more qualified than the former United States Air Force pilot to assist Felix Baumgartner as the Austrian prepares to embark on the first ever 120,000-foot supersonic descent from the edge of space.

In 1957, as part of Project Manhigh, Kittinger, now 83 and a retired Colonel, set an interim balloon altitude record of 96,760 feet in Manhigh I, for which he was awarded his first Distinguished Flying Cross.

Three years later, and on the third attempt for which he is now most famous, Kittinger made the final jump from the Excelsior III at 102,800 feet, achieving four minutes and 36 seconds of freefall, while reaching a maximum speed of 988kph before opening his parachute at 18,000 feet.

During a distinguished USAF career, Kittinger also served as a test pilot, Squadron Commander and Vice Wing Commander.

Joe is also a National Aeronautics Association Elder Statesman of Aviation; was awarded a Lifetime Achievement in Aviation trophy from the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum; was made an Honorary U.S. Army Golden Knight; and is enshrined in the National Aviation Hall of Fame, the U.S. Ballooning Hall of Fame and the National Skydiving Museum Hall of Fame.

To date, Joe has logged more than 16,800 hours of flying time in over 93 aircraft.

As well as sharing his unrivalled knowledge to help with the various challenges of Red Bull Stratos, as "Capcom" (capsule communications) he will be Mission Control's primary point of radio contact with Felix Baumgartner during ascent.

Joe Kittinger, the highest step on the sky
Kittinger´s jump© Red Bull Content Pool