Saturday, August 28, 2010

Today in Severe Weather History for August 28

On this date in 1959, Lt. Col. William Rankin ejected from his F-8 fighter jet when the engine failed right on top of a thunderstorm along the U.S. East Coast.

He went on a wild ride from 45,000 feet, down through the thunderstorm, being buffeted up and down by updrafts and downdrafts.  The descent, which would normally have taken 10 minutes, reportedly took over 45.  He described it as one of the most "bizarre and painful" experiences imaginable.  He even thought he had died at one point.

He went on to write a book about the experience.  Used copies are still available today on Amazon.  An Amazon user, describing himself as Rankin's nephew, recently posted a review stating that the historic aviator died on July 6, 2009, nearly 50 years later.

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