Slide the lightening, parachuting through cumulonimbus cloud

Friday, 28 October, 2011

The late Bill Rankin, a former US air force pilot, had a parachuting experience to remember, and dread, after inadvertently descending through the middle of a stormy cumulonimbus cloud, after the engine of the jet aircraft he was flying failed, at high altitude, over the US state of North Carolina.

After falling for a mere 10 seconds, Bill Rankin penetrated the top of the anvil-shaped storm. The dense gray cloud smothered out the summer sun, and the temperature dropped rapidly. In less than a minute the extreme cold and wind began to inflict Rankin’s extremities with frostbite; particularly his gloveless left hand. The wind was a cacophony inside his flight helmet. Freezing, injured, and unable to see more than a few feet in the murky cloud, the Lieutenant Colonel mustered all of his will to keep his hand far from the rip cord.

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