Skydiver readies for second try at historic jump
Strong winds forced 64-year-old French parachutist to postpone his first attempt on Monday.27 May 2008
NORTH BATTLEFORD - French skydiver Michel Fournier prepared Tuesday to take off on a helium balloon that will take him to the edge of the stratosphere for a historic 40-kilometre freefall.
The 64-year-old parachutist entered the balloon's cabin in the early hours of the morning to inhale canned oxygen to purge his blood of nitrogen and lessen the risk of an embolism caused by varying atmospheric pressures during the jump.
The balloon was scheduled to take off at around 4:30 am (1030 GMT) from North Battleford in western Canada's Saskatchewan province. Its ascent will take two hours, while the jump will last 10 minutes.
Strong winds forced Fournier to postpone his first attempt on Monday.
The sky was clear early Tuesday with eight-kilometre per hour winds at North Battleford airport, according to Canada's weather service.
Fournier has said it was his life's dream to make the jump, which will begin at a point four times higher than the cruising altitude of a commercial jet.
He has had two unsuccessful tries before, in 2002 and 2003. His balloon tore the last time, but he bought a new one for this trial.
Fournier is attempting to break four world records: Fastest freefall, longest freefall, highest jump, and highest altitude reached by a man in a balloon.
In 1960, American Joseph Kittinger jumped from 31,333 metres as part of a medical experiment, and in 1962 Russian Evgueni Andreiev jumped from 24,483 metres to set a world free-fall record.
[AFP / Expatica]
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