High-altitude jumper was also a …

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Nick PiantanidaYeah, you guessed it. Today over on the CCJ blog find the story of onetime New Jersey-based truck driver Nick Piantanida (pictured), who also holds the distinction of being a 1960s pioneer of extreme high-altitude skydiving — and who holds the unofficial record for the highest-ever manned balloon flight, 123,500 feet. He was trying to beat a U.S. Air Force colonel’s jump record on that flight, though things went awry.

Ever persistent — and “a self-styled adventurer who had dabbled in mountain climbing, sold exotic animals,” Jack Roberts writes, and was “a hard-charging do-it-yourself kind of guy” (sound familiar?) — Piantanida reloaded for another try when tragedy struck.

Check out Roberts’ full account. You won’t be sorry you did.