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|Signatures on this item|
|*The value given for each signature has been calculated by us based on the historical significance and rarity of the signature. Values of many pilot signatures have risen in recent years and will likely continue to rise as they become more and more rare.|
Colonel Joe Kittinger
*Signature Value : £50
|Joe Kittinger was born in Orlando, Florida on July 27th, 1928. In 1949 he enlisted in the Air Force and was accepted into the Aviation Cadet program graduating in 1950. Kittinger became a test pilot for NATO in Germany. In 1953 he returned to the U.S. flying experimental jet fighters at Holloman AFB, Alamogordo, New Mexico. Later Kittinger moved to Project Manhigh - zero gravity flights to test cosmic rays, pilot escape and survival procedures. On June 2nd, 1957, Kittinger piloted Manhigh I to a height of 96,000 feet, jumped and parachuted back to earth. This makes Kittinger the first man in space. Kittinger was part of the USAF research project Excelsior - a precursor to the US space race designed to test human survivability. Projects Excelsior I and II logged jumps from 76,800 feet and 75,000 feet - the third extreme altitude jump Kittinger performed was on the 16th August 1960. Excelsior III was the climax of the operation. Leaping from the gondola of a 200ft diameter helium balloon, Kittinger spent four minutes thirty six seconds in freefall. Passing through 90,000ft, his speed reached an incredible 614mph (almost the speed of sound in the thin freezing air of the upper atmosphere) before his multi stage parachute slowed his descent - opening the main chute at 18,000ft. Joe Kittinger had trained as a fighter pilot, and during the Vietnam war he volunteered for the Air Force's Aero Commandos and logged over 1,000 hours combat flight in three tours of duty. He commanded the famed Triple Nickel -- the 555th Fighter/Bomber squadron. Seven days before the end of his third tour he was shot down over North Vietnam and spent 11 months as a POW in the Hanoi Hilton. In 1978 he retired from the Air Force, and in 1983 he flew a helium balloon from Nevada to New York in a record 72 hours. In 1984 he flew solo from Maine to Italy and became the first and only person to cross the Atlantic solo in a balloon. Among his many awards are the Harmon Trophy, Two Montgolfier Diplomas, Silver Star with Oak Leaf Cluster, Legion of Merit with Oak Leaf Cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with five Oak Leaf Clusters, Bronze Star Medal with V device and two Oak Leaf Clusters, and the National Aeronautic Association's Elder Statesman of Aviation award.|
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