BBC World News exclusive: Record-breaking skydive into jet stream for new documentary
BBC World News has exclusive access to film Swiss entrepreneur and skydiver Marc Hauser as he became the first person to make a free fall jump into the jet stream, the high altitude winds that course around the planet, in a remarkable feat of bravery and skill.
The documentary Riding the Jet Stream about Marc’s jump, and the fascinating science behind high altitude winds and the attempts to harness their energy, will air on BBC World News later this year.
Wearing just a normal skydiving suit and with a limited oxygen supply, Marc leapt from a hot air balloon at a height of 7,400m, in -40 degree temperatures, into a 137kph jet stream. Flying at a near 45° angle, he reached a top speed of 270kph before deploying his parachute at 2,000m and landing at a farm near Forbes, in New South Wales, Australia. In free fall he covered a horizontal distance of 5.9km.
The jump was intended to highlight the untapped energy in high altitude winds that have the potential to supply large quantities of wind power.
Marc Hauser says: “It’s a huge relief to have turned my vision of a jet stream jump into reality. The complexities were enormous. So many factors had to fall into place at exactly the right moment, starting with the weather, the flight clearance and the availability of an extraordinary team. Every single one is a world leading expert in their field and was essential to minimize risks in this extremely hostile environment.
“From the beginning I was keen to combine my passion for flying with a higher cause. I am convinced there is huge potential to solve many energy issues with better and smarter use of wind power. Hopefully my jet stream record will draw attention to these ideas and lead to more engineering inventions.”
Made by award-winning documentary filmmaker Claudio von Planta, the film crew tracked Marc on each step of his journey, discovering the technical obstacles he had to overcome as well as exploring the cutting-edge science behind high altitude wind generation.
Marc had also been hoping to break his own world record for the fastest ‘speed tracking’ flight of 304kph. However, technical issues in the balloon forced an earlier than planned exit. The additional tail wind in the jet stream should have powered Marc past his earlier record set in 2012. Marc was not wearing a wing suit in either of the jumps.
Riding the Jet Stream will air later in 2018 on BBC World News.