This October, Austrian sky diver Felix Baumgartner aims to execute the highest free fall in history. For 52 years that record has been held by U.S. Air Force pilot Joseph Kittinger—shown above at the outset of his historic skydive.
It was August 16, 1960. Kittinger had just uttered "Lord, take care of me now" and stepped out of his open-air, helium-balloon gondola, some 20 miles (31 kilometers) up. Thirteen minutes and 45 seconds later, he had traveled from the edge of space to New Mexico using only a pressurized suit and parachutes.
Designed in part to study high-altitude bailouts, much of the Air Force project, from training to touchdown, was captured in classic National Geographic pictures, re-presented here in anticipation of Baumgartner's expected sound barrier-shattering dive from 23 miles (37 kilometers) above the same spot.
(Also see "Supersonic Skydive's 5 Biggest Risks: Boiling Blood, Deadly Spins, and Worse.")