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IanHarrop

Michel Fournier to try again

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Who wants to place bets on another problem keeping this guy on the ground...

http://www.canada.com/technology/Parachutist+drops+again+freefall/2918995/story.html

Parachutist drops by again for freefall try

Fournier, 66, back in May to try for world-record skydiving jump despite balloon debacle in 2008

By Peter Wilson, The StarPhoenixApril 17, 2010

Former parachutist and retired Canadian Armed Forces colonel Gil Bellavance says Michel Fournier will be returning to North Battleford in May for another attempt at the skydiving world recordPhotograph by: SP Photo by Peter Wilson, The StarPhoenixLooking up at the sky, Gil Bellavance recalls the last time he cast his gaze above the North Battleford airport.

That was two years ago, and he'd watched a $100,000-plus balloon drift lazily skyward toward eventual oblivion, leaving his friend and intrepid French parachutist, Michel Fournier, firmly earthbound.

"I was dumbstruck. It was like a bad dream. None of us could believe it," said Bellavance, who acted as translator and a co-ordinator for Fournier during his 2003 and 2008 ill-fated attempts at a world-record skydiving jump.

The Battlefords-area resident can still recall the day almost two years ago of the second attempt. That's when an explosive bolt release connecting Fournier's capsule to the giant balloon fired prematurely, leaving the crestfallen parachutist on the tarmac, his balloon floating away without him. The errant balloon was eventually found wrecked, about 25 kilometres away from the launch site.

"Poor Michel was so frustrated and embarrassed. His team had worked so hard and everything had been going so well. He genuinely thought it was going to be his day to shatter the record," Bellavance said.

But Bellavance, a retired colonel in the Canadian army and himself a former paratrooper, is once again set to help his friend when Fournier returns to Saskatchewan for another attempt at breaking the world record this spring.

In recent e-mail conversations, Bellavance has learned the 66-year-old Fournier is coming back to North Battleford with firm plans to take yet another shot at jumping from a head-spinning 40,000 metres. The attempt is planned for mid-May, when he says he will once again take to the skies above North Battleford in a helium-filled balloon to attempt his jump.

"Michel is in incredible physical shape, but you'd have to say he's maybe reached the age where this could be his last attempt," said Bellavance, who has also become good friends with Fournier.

While technically a senior citizen, the retired French parachute regiment officer is not short of experience. He has made more than 8,000 jumps and holds the French record for the longest fall, from an altitude of 12,000 metres. A Russian made the current world record jump of almost 24,500 metres in 1962. An American made a jump from more than 31,330 metres in 1960, but the attempt was not ratified as a record.

NASA and the European Space Agency have followed the parachutist's past missions, says Bellavance. A successful jump and landing by Fournier could mean future astronauts might have a way to return to Earth should their spacecraft become disabled, he says.

Fournier's team is expected to arrive in early May. They had originally planned to use a Chinese-made balloon for this latest mission, but have now arranged to use one manufactured in the United States.

"The window that he's been given by Canadian government officials probably means he'll make this year's launch date between the 16th to the 18th of May. Weather conditions are crucial to a successful launch so we're hoping it's going to be kind to us," Bellavance said.

Fournier has come out before on the wrong end of an argument with Saskatchewan's sometimes fickle weather. His first attempt here in 2002 was ruined when gusty winds ripped off the line he was using to pump helium into the balloon. The following year, his balloon tore during the lengthy inflating process.

"He's one of the most determined, focused men I've ever met," Bellavance said of Fournier. "He's had some very bad luck, but I have no doubt that if anyone can break the record, Michel can."

There's genuine concern in Bellavance's voice when he speaks of the ever-present dangers inherent in the jump.

A career officer in Canada's former Airborne Regiment, Bellavance has made hundreds of parachute drops, many in training operations with allied forces. Along with his prestigious Canadian parachute wings, his uniform also bore U.S., French, German and Belgian airborne wings.

"We have a lot in common. Both Michel and I rose through the ranks and we've both jumped out of more airplanes than we care to remember. We speak the same language in more ways than one," said the affable translator.

Fournier's latest plan remains the same: To get the balloon up about 40 kilometres, where he will free-fall back to Earth reaching speeds around 1,500 km/h. Less than a minute after jumping from his capsule, he should be breaking the sound barrier, hoping his pressurized suit will protect him from severe temperature changes and ultraviolet radiation. The capsule is designed to be automatically released from the balloon after he's exited and will descend to Earth with its own parachute system, said Bellavance.

"His fall should take about seven to eight minutes. If he makes it successfully, he'll have proved his point that astronauts can safely eject from a spacecraft that's malfunctioned. And that's what his mission is all about."

© Copyright (c) The StarPhoenix
"Where troubles melt like lemon drops, away above the chimney tops, that's where you'll find me" Dorothy

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http://www.redbullstratos.com/

this seems better planed then that guy. but good luck to him.



I agree... Michel has tries a few times but never seems to get off the ground. :P



As I recall Richard Bransen, Steve Fosset and the brothers Rutan have a lengthy list of spectacular failures to their credit to go beside their triumphs. If he makes it no one will remember the false starts. Good luck to him.
Besides, it's gotta be good for the Battlefords' economies.

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I kinda hope Fournier succeeds and beats Red Bull to the punch. Fournier, formerly a wealthy guy, has literally spent every penny he has to realize the dream of a freefall altitude record. Felix can beat it later but I hope Fournier gets to set the record while he is still young enough (66) to have a reasonable chance. It is a VERY dangerous undertaking. Life support gear has to work perfectly under very demanding conditions. Nick Piantanida paid with his life trying this long ago. A stuck valve, leak, tear, crack etc can kill you in seconds.

377
2018 marks half a century as a skydiver. Trained by the late Perry Stevens D-51 in 1968.

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i agree, I'd love to see this guy beat Red Bull. Felix Baumgartner thinks he is some kind of super hero. i just read an interview with him recently where he said "maybe Steven Spielberg will call one day and make a film about me". WTF?



I'll have to agree with this.

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i agree, I'd love to see this guy beat Red Bull. Felix Baumgartner thinks he is some kind of super hero. i just read an interview with him recently where he said "maybe Steven Spielberg will call one day and make a film about me". WTF?



I'll have to agree with this.



Yeah, I don't care much for guys with super egos, like Felix, or Travis Pastrana... who think they're da bomb and all that shit :|
"Mediocre people don't like high achievers, and high achievers don't like mediocre people." - SIX TIME National Champion coach Nick Saban

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Yeah, I don't care much for guys with super egos, like Felix, or Travis Pastrana... who think they're da bomb and all that shit :|



have you personally met pastrana? he walked up to me and started talking to me like he knew me for years. really nice guy. he didnt seem all the ego centered to me at least.
Thanatos340(on landing rounds)--
Landing procedure: Hand all the way up, Feet and Knees Together and PLF soon as you get bitch slapped by a planet.

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"His fall should take about seven to eight minutes. If he makes it successfully, he'll have proved his point that astronauts can safely eject from a spacecraft that's malfunctioned. And that's what his mission is all about."



I don't really get that part. If an astronaut ejects from an orbiting spacecraft, they would still need to bleed off the 17,500mph orbital speed somehow. It's not the same as falling straight down from a balloon (which is admittedly very difficult from that kind of altitude to begin with)...

-----------------------
Roger "Ramjet" Clark
FB# 271, SCR 3245, SCS 1519

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Yeah, I don't care much for guys with super egos, like Felix, or Travis Pastrana... who think they're da bomb and all that shit :|



have you personally met pastrana? he walked up to me and started talking to me like he knew me for years. really nice guy. he didnt seem all the ego centered to me at least.



Well no... but who in their right mind would jump out of a plane with a tandem harness at only 100 jumps and have the tandem master catch him in freefall and hook him up? Of course, I never saw his motorcycle stunts or anything before that so I guess first impressions can be wrong.
"Mediocre people don't like high achievers, and high achievers don't like mediocre people." - SIX TIME National Champion coach Nick Saban

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I'd like to follow his attempt but his website is French. Selecting the "English" option still does not provide updates in english. Does anybody know of an english site where this can be followed?



Pressing the English option worked fine for me. Checked all of the pages, they all came up in English.
"Where troubles melt like lemon drops, away above the chimney tops, that's where you'll find me" Dorothy

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"His fall should take about seven to eight minutes. If he makes it successfully, he'll have proved his point that astronauts can safely eject from a spacecraft that's malfunctioned. And that's what his mission is all about."



I don't really get that part. If an astronaut ejects from an orbiting spacecraft, they would still need to bleed off the 17,500mph orbital speed somehow. It's not the same as falling straight down from a balloon (which is admittedly very difficult from that kind of altitude to begin with)...



The comment you cite does not include the word "orbit" or any reference to speed. This is about launch and return malfunctions. NASA guys can correct me if I'm wrong but as I recall, the Challenger astronauts were all alive inside the crew module from the explosion altitude of about 50K until impact with the water, way more than enough time to get out.

The Columbia crew also had at least a couple of minutes warning that the wheels were coming off their buggy, but I don't know where they were in terms of speed and altitude so I don't know if they coulda gotten out of there or not.

But it's inside-the-atmosphere egress they're talking about here, not orbit.

B|
SCR-6933 / SCS-3463 / D-5533 / BASE 44 / CCS-37 / 82d Airborne (Ret.)

"The beginning of wisdom is to first call things by their right names."

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"His fall should take about seven to eight minutes. If he makes it successfully, he'll have proved his point that astronauts can safely eject from a spacecraft that's malfunctioned. And that's what his mission is all about."



I don't really get that part. If an astronaut ejects from an orbiting spacecraft, they would still need to bleed off the 17,500mph orbital speed somehow. It's not the same as falling straight down from a balloon (which is admittedly very difficult from that kind of altitude to begin with)...



The comment you cite does not include the word "orbit" or any reference to speed. This is about launch and return malfunctions. NASA guys can correct me if I'm wrong but as I recall, the Challenger astronauts were all alive inside the crew module from the explosion altitude of about 50K until impact with the water, way more than enough time to get out.

The Columbia crew also had at least a couple of minutes warning that the wheels were coming off their buggy, but I don't know where they were in terms of speed and altitude so I don't know if they coulda gotten out of there or not.

But it's inside-the-atmosphere egress they're talking about here, not orbit.

B|


I didn't read it that way, but I certainly agree that something for launch failures would be a good thing. Yes, the Challenger crew was alive until impact. There were emergency oxygen setups on each crew member and they were manually activated. The ones on the pilot and co-pilot could only be activated by crew members sitting behind them. That's one of the ways it was determined they survived the explosion.

I don't think the Columbia crew survived to a slow enough speed for this type thing to work; such an event would probably require some sort of ejection capsule (IMO).

-----------------------
Roger "Ramjet" Clark
FB# 271, SCR 3245, SCS 1519

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"His fall should take about seven to eight minutes. If he makes it successfully, he'll have proved his point that astronauts can safely eject from a spacecraft that's malfunctioned. And that's what his mission is all about."



I don't really get that part. If an astronaut ejects from an orbiting spacecraft, they would still need to bleed off the 17,500mph orbital speed somehow. It's not the same as falling straight down from a balloon (which is admittedly very difficult from that kind of altitude to begin with)...



The comment you cite does not include the word "orbit" or any reference to speed. This is about launch and return malfunctions. NASA guys can correct me if I'm wrong but as I recall, the Challenger astronauts were all alive inside the crew module from the explosion altitude of about 50K until impact with the water, way more than enough time to get out.

The Columbia crew also had at least a couple of minutes warning that the wheels were coming off their buggy, but I don't know where they were in terms of speed and altitude so I don't know if they coulda gotten out of there or not.

But it's inside-the-atmosphere egress they're talking about here, not orbit.

B|


I didn't read it that way, but I certainly agree that something for launch failures would be a good thing. Yes, the Challenger crew was alive until impact. There were emergency oxygen setups on each crew member and they were manually activated. The ones on the pilot and co-pilot could only be activated by crew members sitting behind them. That's one of the ways it was determined they survived the explosion.

I don't think the Columbia crew survived to a slow enough speed for this type thing to work; such an event would probably require some sort of ejection capsule (IMO).



The reason I read it as inside-the-atmosphere egress is:

1) being a press-release writer myself, it seemed that they were so focused on what they were doing it didn't occur to them that people looking at the bigger picture might misinterpret; and

2) I knew NASA tinkered with the idea for a while after Challenger. On of my favorites was a telescoping boom that came out of the side so the crew could kind of "fire pole" away from the orbiter -- or something.

Given that the crew module survived Challenger, it seems to me that they could also just put a big parachute on THAT -- kind of like an F-111, where the whole cockpit came off - no ejection seats.

B|
SCR-6933 / SCS-3463 / D-5533 / BASE 44 / CCS-37 / 82d Airborne (Ret.)

"The beginning of wisdom is to first call things by their right names."

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A friend of mine has been invited to crew for it. Sounds like a fun time to me.

did he turn the FXC on ?

Tentative postponed due tu reserve opening during pressurization test :D

:|:|:|

nobody had thought of THAT excuse...
scissors beat paper, paper beat rock, rock beat wingsuit - KarlM

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The premature deployment of a rescue parachute in Saskatchewan has scuttled the latest attempt by a French adventurer to set a free-fall record by skydiving from a helium balloon.

According to his website, Michel Fournier's team was filling the balloon just before dawn on Sunday during a takeoff attempt from an airport in North Battleford, Sask., when a emergency parachute deployed from his capsule.



Ok, this is getting ridiculous, if it wasn't already...

At least I'd hope the current problem is a lot more fixable than letting the whole balloon disappear over the horizon.

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Ok, this is getting ridiculous, if it wasn't already...

At least I'd hope the current problem is a lot more fixable than letting the whole balloon disappear over the horizon.



Poor Michel. I'm thinking this may be the legacy he'll leave behind. The most fail attempts, with never getting off the ground. :|

Don't tell me the sky's the limit when there are footprints on the moon

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