Locked in a desperate Cold War race against the Soviets to find out if humans could survive in space and live through a free-fall from space vehicles, the Pentagon gave civilian adventurer Nick Piantanida's Project Strato-Jump little notice until May Day, 1966. Operating in the shadows of well-funded, high-visibility Air Force and Navy projects, the former truck driver and pet store owner set a new world record for manned balloon altitude. Rising more than 23 miles over the South Dakota prairie, Piantanida nearly perished trying to set the world record for the highest free-fall parachute jump from that height. On his next attempt, he would not be so lucky. recalls a by-gone era when men tested the limits of mortality armed only with an indomitable spirit, ingenuity, and - some say - sheer lunacy. Part harrowing adventure story, part space history, part psychological portrait of an extraordinary risk-taker, this story fascinates and intrigues the armchair adventurer in all of us.
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