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October 16, 2012

Felix Baumgartner jumps from stratosphere, breaks sound barrier

Felix Baumgartner jumps from stratosphere, breaks sound barrier

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Tuesday, October 16, 2012

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New Mexico desert
Image: John Phelan.

Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner, aged 43, performed a jump Sunday from 39 km above the Earth’s surface using a full-pressure suit, a parachute canopy, a capsule, and a helium balloon. Baumgartner broke the sound barrier as his top speed reached 1342 km/h (834 miles per hour), exceeding the speed of sound, and landing in the New Mexico desert, United States.

The jump follows several days of waiting for atmospheric winds to decrease to make sure the jump would be safe, and the capsule would not be blown away.

A balloon with 850 megalitres (30 million cubic feet) of helium took over two hours to lift the Red Bull Stratos capsule to a 39 km altitude in the stratosphere, 2 km higher than expected, breaking a 1961 manned balloon record of 34.7 km (113,740 feet).

While the capsule ascended, a helmet faceplate heater failed. Exhalation fogged the faceplate and affected vision. Baumgartner proceeded with the jump anyway.

Baumgartner jumped with his head down to increase speed. A quick jump was essential to minimise the risk of spinning out of control which could make the skydiver lose consciousness.

Baumgartner’s suit was equipped with devices to document the jump, including a camera. They also included tools to measure altitude, speed and location, and to report them to the mission control center.

After the successful jump, Baumgartner said, “When I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble, you do not think about breaking records anymore, you do not think about gaining scientific data. The only thing you want is to come back alive. … Sometimes we have to get really high to see how small we are”.

The project was sponsored by Austrian Red Bull energy drinks company.



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May 11, 2012

Report blames New Zealand skydive plane crash that killed nine on overloading

Report blames New Zealand skydive plane crash that killed nine on overloading

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Friday, May 11, 2012

Two years after a skydiving plane crashed in New Zealand, killing all nine on board, a report has blamed overloading for what was the nation’s worst air accident for seventeen years. The modified aircraft was unable to handle a full complement of eight passengers.

An FU-24, from file. This aircraft is performing its design role as an agricultural plane, but the accident aircraft had been converted for skydiving.

Five locals and four foreign tourists died when the FU-24 crashed on takeoff at Fox Glacier. Eyewitness accounts said the plane took off earlier than normal, pitching up steeply before falling from a high of about 100m (330ft). It struck the ground nose-first.

The report by New Zealand’s Transport Accident Investigation Commission (TAIC), after an investigation led by Ian McClelland, says the aircraft did not accumulate sufficient airspeed before it took off. It further notes that the plane’s centre of gravity was far to the rear. The plane had been converted three months prior from an agricultural aircraft and this had not been performed well, according to the TAIC.

TAIC go on to say the Civil Aviation Authority failed to spot paperwork discrepencies when approving the modified aircraft. “As a result the aeroplane was being flown outside its loading limits every time it carried a full load of eight parachutists,” said the report. It was “an accident waiting to happen”.

Cquote1.svg This is an accident that no pilot should ever forget Cquote2.svg

—Graeme Harris, NZ’s head of civil aviation

Graeme Harris, the nation’s head of civil aviation, described weight checks as “basic airmanship, taught to every student pilot” and noted all pilots are responsible for conducting them. “It is very sad that a critical element of pre-flight planning, which should be second nature to any pilot, appears to have been done so poorly. This is an accident that no pilot should ever forget.”

The local victims were Adam Bennett, 47, Michael Suter, 32, Christopher McDonald, 62, and Rodney Miller, 55, who were professional skydivers, and pilot Chaminda Senadhira, 33. The foreign victims were Irishman Patrick Byrne, 26, Australian Glen Bourke, 18, German Annita Kirsten, 23, and Briton Brad Coker, 24.

Chris Coker, Brad Coker’s father, has urged NZ Prime Minister John Key to increase regulation. The local Civil Aviation Authority has already decreed no FU-24 should carry more than six individually weighed passengers as a result of the crash, and last year introduced a law aimed at tightening up adventure flight regulation. The stricter rules came into effect earlier this month.

The TAIC report reminded pilots to calculate weights individually for each aircraft, as even two planes of the same model can differ. It further notes aircraft modification is “a safety-critical process that must be done in strict accordance with rules and guidelines and with appropriate regulatory oversight”.



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September 6, 2010

Nine dead after small plane crashes in New Zealand

Nine dead after small plane crashes in New Zealand

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Monday, September 6, 2010

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Nine people died in New Zealand after a small tourist plane crashed on Saturday afternoon on the West Coast of the South Island, killing all on board. The aircraft, a Fletcher FU24 owned by a local sky diving company, crashed and caught fire at 13:15 local time soon after taking off from the Fox Glacier Airport to carry out tandem skydiving over the Fox Glacier. The cause of the accident is not yet known, but the plane banked, dipped, smashed nose-first into the ground, and burst into flames.

There were four overseas tourists on the plane, from Australia, England, Germany, and Ireland. The five New Zealanders were the pilot and four divemasters. Police spokeswoman Detective Sergeant Jackie Adams said that the victims were so badly burned that members of the police disaster team had to be called in to assist. She was trying to track a group of tourists who were to have gone on the flight, but wanted to go together as a group so let those who died go ahead of them.

The plane crash was the worst in New Zealand for nearly 17 years. The regional coroner Richard McElrea was travelling to the crash scene to begin inquiries, and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission has dispatched a team of six investigators. The probes may take a year to complete. There was a similar crash near Fox Glacier when a helicopter crashed killing seven people in October 1994, and a crash near the nearby Franz Josef Glacier in October 1993 which killed 9 people. Because of the earthquake in Christchurch the bodies had to be sent to the Auckland morgue rather than the nearer Christchurch morgue.



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August 9, 2008

Wikinews Shorts: August 9, 2008

Wikinews Shorts: August 9, 2008 – Wikinews, the free news source

Wikinews Shorts: August 9, 2008

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A compilation of brief news reports for Saturday, August 9, 2008.

Journalist from Philippines dies in coma after being shot five times

Dennis Cuesta a radio journalist from the Philippines has died after suffering five gunshot wounds. Cuesta, 38, had slipped into a coma while in the intensive care unit at a local hospital. Authorities believe his attack was due to his recent reports on gambling and drugs. Cuesta had received several death threats prior to the shooting. He is the 60th journalist killed in the Philippines since 2001 and the fourth this year.

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Man from from UK dies from heart attack while skydiving

A 39-year-old man from the United Kingdom has died after he suffered a heart attack while skydiving. Andrew Bearne died while jumping 12,500 feet from an airplane while taking lessons in skydiving in Spain. Instructors state that Bearne was doing well for most of the jump, but at 1,000 feet, after he deployed his chute, he became unresponsive. The school canceled all future classes for the day.

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May 29, 2008

First live advert in UK shown on British TV

First live advert in UK shown on British TV

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Thursday, May 29, 2008

The letter ‘o’ being formed in the advert
Image: Honda.

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The first ever live advert to be shown on British television was Broadcast today on Channel 4 at 19:10 UTC. The advert, created by car manufacturer Honda, showed people jumping from the sky and forming the individual letters of the word HONDA as a group while falling. The image on the left shows the letter ‘O’ being formed in this way.

The sales director at Channel Four commented on the advert: “This concept breaks the boundaries of the ‘perceived’ confines of TV advertising, which is something Channel 4 is striving to do.”

Before being shown, the advert was promoted on Channel 4. Directly before it, an announcer explained the event, saying why Channel 4 believed it to be a groundbreaking innovation.

Honda aimed to link the new advert with its new slogan, “If it’s difficult it’s worth doing.”

The advert was broadcast from Spain, where it was 21:10 at the time of filming.


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April 25, 2005

Skydiver dies after legs severed during jump

Skydiver dies after legs severed during jump

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Monday, April 25, 2005

A Florida cinematographer, skydiving with 14 others, was killed on Saturday when his legs were severed at the knees by the wing of the aircraft that had just dropped him.

Albert Wing III deployed his parachute and caught an updraft when the left wing of a DHC-6 Twin Otter propeller plane struck him. He managed to control his descent and land near the DeLand Airport, about 40 miles north of Orlando.

He was airlifted to a hospital where he later died. It was not known if he was filming at the time of the accident, and a camera has not been found.

The plane and the other sport jumpers landed safely.

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