back to article Breaking records: Google exec in terrifying SKY PLUNGE DRAMA

A top Google exec has broken the record for the highest free fall to Earth – in a largely self-funded stunt to explore the stratosphere. Alan Eustace Must not fart in there ... must not fart in there On Friday morning, Pacific time, Google's senior veep of Knowledge Alan Eustace rode a helium-filled balloon to more than …

  1. poopypants

    I wonder

    how he managed to cram his balls into that suit.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: I wonder

      > how he managed to cram his balls into that suit.

      And protect them fro the heat of re-entry :P

      1. DropBear

        Re: I wonder

        Tongue-in-cheek, yes, but strictly speaking "re-entry" and heat are involved only when something is returning with cosmic levels of speed - this was just falling from a near standstill, even if it got rather fast by typical parachuting standards...

  2. Mark 85

    Well Done...

    No publicity, no sponsorship. Unheard of and thus, a very class act to do something he wanted to do. And yeah.. I agree with the others about balls.

    Have a cold one that doesn't have a faint smell of vomit but of hops. ----->

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Well Done...

      No publicity, no sponsorship, no video?

      1. Mark 85

        Re: Well Done...

        He had a GoPro.... hopefully there will be some video... and I'll bet it shows up on YouTube.

        1. Steve Crook

          Re: Well Done...

          My first reaction was that it was all very unlike an American. More British. Not exactly Heath-Robinson or Eddie the eagle, more Cavor. Then I thought that it's probably killed any ambitions Vulture Special Projects might have had in the same direction.

          Impressive none the less.

  3. Old Used Programmer

    So Baumgartner is now #3 on the list? (The Raspberry Pi stuffed bear already beat him...I'll have to look up the data to find out if this guy is #1 or #2.)

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    How much does something like this cost?

  5. Old Used Programmer

    I checked...the bear went to 41.109Km, which (according to 'units') is 134,872 feet. So this guy is #1, the bear is #2 and Baumgartner is #3. (Bet the guys with the bear try to beat him...)

  6. Rule of Thumb

    Brilliant, but...

    I wonder what it feels like to go 800+ MPH without a vehicle? At that altitude, I'll bet it's depressingly pedestrian unless you go into a spin...

    However, the stated purpose seems odd. Do we need vehicle-less exploration of the stratosphere? It's not like high altitude biologists need to observe the mysterious denizens of the heights, right? How much data can a human observer gather that couldn't be gathered by instrument?

    So, my guess is that part was for his spouse: "No really dear... It was for SCIENCE, not some silly joyride."

    1. graeme leggett Silver badge

      Re: Brilliant, but...

      might help if you wanted to build up more data on how to bail out at (a really high) altitude.

      1. Jonathan Richards 1

        Re: bailing out

        Yabbut, bailing out of what? It tells you about bailing out of a high altitude balloon, but we're way above where aircraft fly, and if you bail out of an incoming (or outgoing) space transport, your problem is more about your speed than about your altitude, I should think.

        1. David Given

          Re: bailing out


          They have looked into ways of getting people out of space, wearing nothing but a spacesuit and some emergency equipment. This includes the hilariously named Project MOOSE:

          There's several stages to the problem; do your deorbit burn, then survive reentry, then land safely. These experiments show that it's possible to solve #3 by simply cutting yourself loose of your reentry vehicle at a relatively high altitude and coming down by parachute; which is valuable knowledge.

    2. Annihilator

      Re: Brilliant, but...

      "I wonder what it feels like to go 800+ MPH without a vehicle? At that altitude, I'll bet it's depressingly pedestrian unless you go into a spin..."

      Speed is all relative. From his point of view he wouldn't have felt like he was moving, after the initial acceleration that is. Following that, he'd feel weightless.

      1. David Given

        Re: Brilliant, but...


        He'll only feel weightless *while he's accelerating* (because gravity is pulling him down and there's no resistance). One he *stops* accelerating, due to air resistance, he'll stop feeling weightless (because gravity is pulling him down but the air's not letting him accelerate).

  7. skeptical i

    That is so cool. :-)

    As Mark 85 said above, a class act. It's always great to hear about people of means using their funds to quietly do amazing stuff instead of being publicity whores.

    Have another pint, sir.

  8. Neil Barnes Silver badge

    So when

    is he being invited to join the Special Projects Bureau?

  9. I. Aproveofitspendingonspecificprojects

    >I wonder what it feels like to go 800+ MPH without a vehicle?

    Quite lonely until the postmortem -or the gathering, if there is one.

  10. ukgnome


    who knew they came in human size. Lester just needs to scale up Lohan and have this chap mount her.

  11. Mondo the Magnificent


    High Altitude Low Profile?

    Saw the video on BBC news this morning and what a low key affair compares to the Felix Baumgartner affair two years ago.

    No fancy capsule with a million different camera angles, no endorsements, no media frenzy, they just strapped Alan Eustace's ass to a balloon and sent him all the way up..

    It's quite a humble way to set a new record and although doing things like this aren't exactly cheap affairs, Eustace's attempt was done on a shoestring budget compares to the Baumgartner / Red Bull affair.

    Kudos to Alan Eustace and his team, quietly setting a new record with no prior notice, media hype or corporate sponsorship..

  12. Michael Hudson
    Thumb Up

    In light of Baumgartner's jump being streamed all over youtube, I think there is a certain irony in the Google man's jump NOT being streamed on youtube.

    I agree with the others - a class act for just doing what you want to do and not making a fuss about it.

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    .......................................................................................Drat no splat.

    1. David Given


      These days, apparently, we're not supposed to call it 'splat' any more. The preferred phrase is now 'earth hug'.

      1. Swarthy

        Re: THE CHUTE OPENED...

        I'm still pushing for acceptance of 'lithobraking'.

  14. Trollslayer

    Just did it

    Cool as Steve McQueen.

  15. Gordo Rex
    Paris Hilton

    I wonder....

    if he considered releasing a paper airplane just before he pulled the rip chord? Then he could have added another record to his accomplishment.

    At any rate, well done!

  16. Zog_but_not_the_first
    Thumb Up

    Balls of steel


  17. Steve Roach

    As a fan of Skydiving and the history behind the sport I look forward to seeing more of Alan Eustace’s Jump when the videos & subsequent long story hit the airwaves.

    I have to say that I enjoyed the front row seat of Baumgartner's jump and that his mentor Colonel Joseph Kittinger had his ear for the voyage. There has to be a lot said for the fact that Baumgartner could have stayed in Freefall for another 20 seconds easily breaking the longest freefall but left that record for Kittinger but left that one for his mentor.

    Speaking of class Iain you could learn a thing or two about your reporting. I could care less about the fizzy drink that has a faint odor of vomit but when you insult in your story you take away from it.

  18. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    7/10 :)

    Great Jump...Pretty awful landing

  19. John H Woods Silver badge

    CIF comment

    (spotted on CiF, - Comment is Free, on the Guardian site)

    "I hear that the CEO of Tesco has fallen further and faster"

  20. bachcole

    My son says that Red Bull smells like gasoline and thinks that people ought not to drink things that smell like gasoline. (:->)

  21. cordwainer 1

    Sorry, but Kittinger still has the biggest balls...

    Considering he jumped from 102,800 feet (31,300 m) - almost 20 miles up - from an open gondola, wearing only a pressurized flight suit, and multiple layers of clothing for protection from temperatures as low as 94 degrees below zero (Fahrenheit). Carrying the 155 lbs of gear needed to keep him alive during a 1 1/2 hour ascent...12 minutes hanging in near-space waiting for the OK to jump... a 4 1/2 minute fall trailing a 6-foot stabilizer chute.

    With his right hand in severe pain, swollen to twice its normal size owing to a pressurization malfunction in his right glove.

    After having survived two previous similar high altitude jumps, during one of which the drogue chute malfunctioned, and he blacked out from the 120 rpm flat spin he went into, coming to only when his emergency chute opened at 10,000 ft.

    He landed using a 28-foot round parachute, still weighted down by all the gear, because the heavy metal seat box was dangling from the one strap his useless right hand was unable to release. The box slammed into his leg as he hit the ground in what he said was the hardest landing he ever had.

    Unbelievably, he suffered no lasting damage from any of the jumps. His hand returned to normal size by the next day. In addition to his many previous accomplishments, medals, and awards, he went on to set even more ballooning, sky-diving, and flight records, and even survived being shot down in Vietnam and spending 11 months as a POW in the "Hanoi Hilton".

    The USAF project Kittinger participated in was also intended to save lives, and did. It proved pilots could bail out safely from high altitude and avoid a "death" spin...even with minimal protection. He was also part of Baumgartner's team - a man who in the end Baumgartner came to respect so greatly, he wanted only Kittinger communicating with him during his own jump.

    So it's a crime Kittinger isn't even mentioned in these recent articles. His record stood for 52 years, and was only broken when enough money was finally spent on much safer technology.

    Eustace - to be fair - obviously had good intentions. He was willing to invest his own money in something he believed in. And yes, it took real guts to make the jump. There are very few people who are that courageous.

    But if you want to see something genuinely amazing, go to - and before you watch the whole thing, go first to the 3:25 mark.

    Compare what you see to the technology protecting Baumgartner and Eustace.

    Neither of them is a coward. Both deserve credit for what they did.

    But when it comes to balls, neither is anywhere close to measuring up to Joseph Kittinger.

    1. asdf

      Re: Sorry, but Kittinger still has the biggest balls...

      Kittinger was amazing. So was John Stapp who rode a rocketsled to 450mph and turned 45G in the late 1940s (talk about primitive tech) to prove harnesses can save lives. He also more than any other person got seat belts put into cars as more of the pilots he was trying to protect were dying in cars than planes.

      1. asdf

        Re: Sorry, but Kittinger still has the biggest balls...

        Bah missed edit period. Check out this crazy record that still stands today. "Manned by John Stapp. Fastest manned rocket-sled. Fastest manned rail vehicle. Fastest manned open-cockpit vehicle. Zero to 1,017 km/h (632 mph) and back to zero in 3,500 feet total., 1954-12-10"

        1. cordwainer 1

          Re: Sorry, but Kittinger still has the biggest balls...

          You definitely have a point :-) Plus Stapp is also the reason automobiles are so much safer than they used to be. He wouldn't stop badgering the auto industry and the feds to mandate the better crash protection he helped create for everyone, not just pilots.

          An upvote in salute to Stapp.

  22. Barry Mahon

    Roswell eh?

    Now, are we sure of this story? Did he really go up in a balloon or.... did he arrive from space? after all he is announced as a Google Veep....

    He's now in site 39 or wherever, with the other aliens, holding a board meeting with other Google veeps.

    Next, google extraterr, a method of selling ads to people in outer space, first clients, the ISS, then Voyager.

    BTW, my comment posting page says I can stay visible with google ads, so, The Reg is signed up...

  23. CraPo

    Not a "free fall"

    Since he had a drogue (or stabilisation "chute" as someone else has called it). Felix's record still stands since he did it without a drogue and truly free-fell.

    Still, damn fine effort.

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