Magnificent Failure: Free Fall from the Edge of Space

Overview

This is the true story of Nick Piantanida - a story of incredible adventure, courage, bravado, and tragedy.

Locked in a desperate Cold War race against the Soviets, the American government gave civilian Piantanida's Project Strato-Jump little notice. Operating in the shadows of well-funded Air Force and Navy projects, the former long-haul trucker and exotic-pet dealer had already set the world altitude record for manned balloon flight. Rising above the Midwestern prairie to a ...

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Magnificent Failure: Free Fall from the Edge of Space

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Overview

This is the true story of Nick Piantanida - a story of incredible adventure, courage, bravado, and tragedy.

Locked in a desperate Cold War race against the Soviets, the American government gave civilian Piantanida's Project Strato-Jump little notice. Operating in the shadows of well-funded Air Force and Navy projects, the former long-haul trucker and exotic-pet dealer had already set the world altitude record for manned balloon flight. Rising above the Midwestern prairie to a height visited only by rocket planes and spaceships, Piantanida was poised to attempt a free fall from the very edge of outer space. On his final attempt on May Day, 1966, his luck finally ran out.

Piantanida was a larger-than-life character who ricocheted from one impossible challenge to the next until he met his match. His story recalls a bygone era when daring men probed the limits of mortality armed only with an indomitable spirit, matchless ingenuity, and - some would contend - sheer lunacy. Part harrowing adventure tale, part space history, part psychological portrait of an extraordinary risk-taker, this successor to author Craig Ryan's acclaimed The Pre-Astronauts fascinates and intrigues the armchair adventurer in us all. Ryan talked to team members, family, and friends - whose who supported Project Strato-Jump and those who opposed it - to discover the truth about Nick Piantanida, and to reconstruct what really happened during Nick's final tragic struggle for triumph and glory.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“Craig Ryan's engrossing new biography. . . [a] miracle of research. . . reveals. . . layer after layer of rich detail”—Sports Illustrated
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781588341419
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Institution Press
  • Publication date: 10/28/2003
  • Pages: 320
  • Product dimensions: 6.23 (w) x 9.26 (h) x 1.06 (d)

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Sort by: Showing all of 2 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 1, 2004

    I jumped with and photographed Nick in Free Fall.

    As the manager of the Lakewood Parachuting Center in the 1960's I met and jumped with Nick from his first jump on. Craig Ryan really understood what we were doing back then and wrote a wonderful story about what really happened.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 15, 2003

    A Brother's Opinion

    Craig Ryan correctly captures the type of brother, Nick Piantanida, I have.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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