WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) — After a man jumped from more than 24 miles in the sky, we are now learning the original space jumper has Wilmington ties.
We’ve heard of “Fearless Felix” and the jump that broke the speed of sound Sunday, but Felix Baumgartner was not the first to make a big jump. Wilmington gastrologist Dr. Joseph Kittinger III was only eight years old when his dad, Air Force Col. Joe Kittenger, jumped 102,800 feet in 1960.
“I can tell you that five or six minutes when I could hear my father’s voice up in the capsule then after he jumped not to hear anything was a really long time,” Dr. Kittenger said.
Col. Kittinger was the first space jumper 52 years ago. Sunday, he helped coach Baumgartner break his record.
“Felix has made more than one comment about how important it was to have someone who had been there, seen that, done that involved with the project,” Dr. Kittenger said.
The younger Kittinger says he is very proud of his father, not only for his original mission, but also for being able to help Baumgartner better prepare for his 127,000-foot leap. He says watching the jump Sunday got to him even more than he remembered as a child when his dad jumped. Kittinger says the visual of Baumgartner spinning through the atmosphere was hard to watch, but he knows his dad warned the new record holder of the possibility.
“Having dad warn him about that, warn him about the spin could have made a difference,” Dr. Kittenger said.
Kittinger says he spoke to his dad after the jump yesterday. He says his dad is very proud of Baumgartner and was happy to be a part of history once again.