Joseph Kittinger II, US Air Force officer

Joseph Kittinger II, US Air Force officer

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Caption: Joseph William Kittinger II (born 1928), in the uniform of a United States Air Force captain. Kittinger made three high-altitude balloon flights and parachute descents in 1959 and 1960 as part of what was called Project Excelsior. His third descent was from a record-breaking height of just over 31 kilometres. As well as the highest balloon ascent, this was the longest free-fall (over four minutes) and fastest speed (nearly 1000 kilometres per hour). The descent took 13 minutes. Kittinger was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross (lower right) for this descent, and is also wearing a parachute insignia and his USAF wings and star.

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