9. High-Altitude Parachute Jumping
Speaking of French versus English rivalries… Ever heard of Michael Fournier and Steve Truglia? If you haven’t yet, you’re likely to soon. Over the past few years, the two high-altitude parachute jumpers have been neck-and-neck in a heated race to make a world-record busting jump from 120,000 feet (more than 23 miles) up—literally from the edge of space. Just to give you an idea of how crazy that is: A typical skydive lasts about one minute before the canopy is deployed; jumping from 120,000 feet up means Fournier and Truglia would freefall for more than seven minutes. From that high, the sky will be pitch black, and they’ll easily be able to make out the curvature of the Earth. Englishman Truglia’s “Space Jump” program is said to be on track for a jump any day now, while Fournier’s French team is aiming for a May ’09 jump. Stay tuned.