Monday, May 17, 2010

Steve Truglia: A leap from the edge of space

By Jason L.

Steve Truglia comes to his talk excited to be given the opportunity to come and speak about what he considers to be the biggest stunt on Earth. Or, perhaps, not quite on earth, but a parachute jump from the very edge of space.

Steve introduces himself with personal information about his career as a stuntman. He brings the viewers through a "Helicopter ride of stunts" that have been featured in movies and television. Being a stunt coordinator as well as preforming the stunts, Steve describes his 13 year journey of being a stuntman. Steve talks about the life of a stuntman back when silent movies were around. "There is no safety, no back support, no pads, no crash mats, no sand pits in the ground, created some very dangerous stunts." He keeps the viewers up to date by explaining what the most dangerous stunts are to do now. Fire stunts are certainly the most life threatening stunts; luckily we now have technology that replaces big bulky fire suits with normal looking clothes. Fantastic materials that enable stunt professionals to burn for longer, look more spectacular, and in pure safety. Car stunts is another area where technology and engineering advances have made life easier for stuntmen, and safer. They can do bigger car stunts than ever before. Although technology has become extremely advanced, stuntmen still use old fashion materials. For example, cardboard boxes are still used for high altitude jumps out of buildings, the same materials used over 50 years ago.

"We can't be killing stunt men. We can't be killing anybody or hurting anybody on set, or any passerby. So safety is everything. But it wasn't always that way," this statement is in my opinion very strong, as it shows how far we have come along in the stuntman world. Being able to create bigger and better explosions, with no one will be injured whatsoever. A famous picture from the old days of silent movies was Harold Lloyd , hanging famously from the clock hands. All of these guys did their own stunts, They were quite remarkable. They had no safety, nor real technology.

If you are in an aircraft at 30,000 feet and the cabin depressurizes, you can have oxygen. If you're at 100,000 feet you die. In six seconds you've lost consciousness. In 10 seconds you're dead. Your blood tries to boil. It's called vaporization, and the body swells up. In 1960, Joseph Kittenger of the United States Air Force did the most spectacular thing. He did a jump from 100,000 feet. And he did it to test high altitude systems for military pilots in the new range of aircraft.

Steve wanted to bring that to the next level, his plan was to jump from 120,000 feet, in the air that is minus 50 degrees. The pumpkin shaped balloon that will bring Steve to the edge of the earth, will expand about 500 times, as it's shape changes due to the expansion of the helium. The journey began by dropping test dummies from 100,000 feet. Above 50,000 a G-suit is a necessity, which helps you breath and exhale at such a high altitude. So he has had to do quite a lot of training, in preparation for some high altitude jumps. The suit that will be used in the jump, must include an area of new technology that would not be normally expected. It is currently in prototype mode, and will cost around 1.5 million dollars. Unfortunately the space suits are not sky diving compatible, so this has been the real challenge, creating a suit that can be used at 120,000, and one that will be able to skydive.

Eventually I think the dream that Steve has of being able to jump from the edge of space is definitely achievable. However, at the moment the cost has exceed the amount that Steve can afford, which would be a reason that his dream has been held back. In addition the technology may not be up to the standards of the difficulty of this jump, and the altitude. Being a confident man, Steve is determined that he will go down in the record books for the greatest stunt on earth.

No comments:

Post a Comment