On Aug. 16, 1960, Colonel Joseph Kittinger stepped from a balloon-supported gondola at the altitude of 102,800 feet (31,333 meters). In freefall for 4.5 minutes at speeds up to 714 mph (1,149 km/h) and temperatures as low as -94 degrees Fahrenheit (-70 degrees celsius), he opened his parachute at 18,000 feet.
Pressurization for his right glove malfunctioned during the ascent, and his right hand swelled up to twice its normal size. He set historical numbers for highest balloon ascent, highest parachute jump, longest drogue-fall (four minutes), and fastest speed by a human being through the atmosphere.
These jumps were made in a “rocking-chair” position, descending on his back, rather than in the usual face-down position familiar to skydivers. This was because he was wearing a 60 lb (27 kg) “kit” on his behind, and his pressure suit naturally formed a sitting shape when it was inflated. For this series of jumps, Kittinger was decorated with a second Distinguished Flying Cross, and he was awarded the Harmon Trophy by President Dwight D. Eisenhower.