On this day back in 1959, Lieutenant Colonel William Rankin bailed out of his F8U jet at a height of 46,000 feet directly into a violent thunderstorm and lived! It took over three times the normal descent time of 13 minutes for him to reach the ground. Of the 45 minute journey, he says; “it was one of the most bizarre and painful experiences imaginable”

There is a book about the account “The Man who rode the thunder”, though it appears to be out of print and the copies that are floating around are commanding high dollars. Here is an excerpt of the tale from an archived time magazine article.


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