Pat Shingleton: "Anniversary Events..."
Anniversary events take us back to 2011 when Gary Connery donned a wing suit and performed a 3,000 foot base jump onto 24,000 cardboard boxes in Henley upon Thames for a world record. That same year, on July 25th, Felix Baumgartner free-fell for almost four minutes at 536 mph then opened his chute for the worlds highest skydive. On this date in 1960, Air Force Captain Joseph Kittenger donned four layers of clothing and left New Mexico in a gondola attached to a helium balloon. Captain Kittenger went skyward for 19 miles and a never before attempted jump back to earth. As temperatures dipped to 100 degrees below zero he soared to 102,800 feet and parachuted. He fell for four minutes and 37 seconds and at 14,000 feet his parachute opened, landing safely on the desert floor. The Glossary of Meteorology and the Handbook of Applied Meteorology does not contain the term, “gustnado.” It’s a constructed word, embraced by the National Weather Service that refers to a short-lived, ground-based, shallow vortex that develops along a gust front. A gust front is the leading edge of a thunderstorm downdraft that enhances existing storms and forms new ones. It is believed that a gustnado caused the deadly stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair on this date in 2013. Wind gusts of 50 m.p.h. were logged at Indianapolis International Airport, 20 miles southwest of the fairgrounds. Radar estimated wind speeds could not be measured due to ground clutter as meteorologists reviewed video of a large flag displaying winds in excess of 50 m.p.h. The gust front was 3 miles ahead of the storm.