1. By now you’ve probably at least heard of Felix Baumgartner and the Red Bull Stratos Project, or perhaps even seen video highlights from the jump. In a 4 minute 19 second free fall, Baumgartner reached an estimated 834.37 mph after jumping from 128,097 ft., becoming the first human to break the sound barrier in free fall, and also breaking records for the highest free fall and highest manned balloon flight.

    Perhaps what you didn’t know was that the previous records were set 52 years ago, by the man on the other end of Baumgartner’s radio yesterday, Joe Kittenger. In August 1960, Kittenger jumped from 102,800 ft and free fell for 4 minutes and 36 seconds, reaching a speed of 614 mph. Here’s a look at Joe in his suit standing next to his gondola.

    The video above is of Kittenger’s record setting jump, pioneering high-altitude free fall and paving the way for the likes of Baumgartner. Kittneger made numerous jumps in his career, and they did not all go off without a hitch. On one occasion Joe was knocked temporarily unconscious when his body went into a flat spin, his automatic chute opener saving his life. On another jump, a suit malfunction caused his right glove to lose pressurization causing his hand to swell to two times it’s normal size. To this day, he still holds the record for longest free fall. Here’s a great view of Joe’s jump.

    Thanks to Mary Anne Madeira for the video link!

     
     
  2. Remember Jeb Corliss, the crazy wingsuit jumper who gets ridiculously close to the ground as he’s flying at speeds of 120 mph? Well, a month ago he misjudged a flight and hit the ground on Table Mountain in South Africa. Luckily, he only hit his legs (breaking them both) and was miraculously able to regain control and have the composure to quickly pull a chute and save his life. Here’s the video. Beware, the horrible music is more disturbing than the footage. 

    Jeb is recovering and has said that he has no intention of quitting jumping.

     
     
  3. UPDATED VIDEO OF JUMP. Click the Red Bull link below to see the original video and others.

    Man’s gotta break world records. On New Year’s Eve in San Diego, Robbie Maddison and Levi LaVallee will attempt to break distance jumping records, at the same time side by side, on their respective machines. Robbie will ride a Yamaha YZ450F motorcycle, and Levi a Polaris snowmobile. Maddison claims to already have broken Ryan Capes’ previous record of 391 feet on a motorcycle during training, but hopes to be the first to ever surpass the 400 foot mark at this event. Levi will attempt to break the snowmobile record as he tries not to think about his horrific training crash (see the 1:30 mark) from last years unattempted jump. A new fuel injected snowmobile should help his cause. This video details some of the challenges of the jumps as well as the machines these brave riders will use to try to make history this New Year’s Eve.

    Check out the slow-mo compression at the 1 minute mark as Robbie lands. Incredible. The jumps will be airing live on ESPN, ESPNHD, and ESPN3, and hopefully on a few channels online as I’ll be trying to catch it from home on my computer. 8 PM PT.

    Red Bull

     
     
  4. Matt Wadsworth is blind. He’s also an accomplished lutenist. You know, lutes, those wandering minstrel sounding guitar thingys? Yeah, he kills it on one of those. His other passion? You guessed it, motorcycles. Turns out he’s been riding since he was a kid and now he wants to jump one over 100 feet. Matt gets ideas, sets goals, and then does them. Talk about man’s gotta do. Renaissance Man will be a three part documentary with your help. You can watch the first part above. Visit making the jump and you can find out more and help Matt reach his goal. 

    Stay posted to Hell For Leather for an upcoming in depth feature on Matt.

    Thanks to Grant Ray!

     
     
  5. Check out Bob Wills flying his motorcycle 300+ feet in the seventies. I love old footage like this, especially with great Bruce Brown commentary and voiceover action.

     
     
  6. Getting spamhacked is annoying and seems to be increasing on this tumblr site, might be time soon to jump ship to wordpress with this thing. In the meantime, watch Jeb Corliss jumping off mountains and flying ridiculously close to the ground in a wingsuit. Just like Dean Potter, Jeb aspires to one day jump and land on a ramp with no parachute. The race is on amongst wingsuit jumpers to see who will be the first.