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cloud rider hears thunder

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  • SOAZ
    In August, 1959 US Marin Lt. Col. William Rankin was flying at 46,000 feet (14,000m) above the Carolina coast in his F-8U Crusader single seater jet fighter
    Message 1 of 1 , May 16, 2003
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      In August, 1959 US Marin Lt. Col. William Rankin was flying at 46,000
      feet (14,000m) above the Carolina coast in his F-8U Crusader single
      seater jet fighter when his engine failed and he was forced to bail
      out. Unfortunately he jumped into a thunderstorm, and by the time his
      pre-set parachute opened at 10,000 feet (3000m) he was tossed around
      in ferocious winds in the thundercloud. "It hit me like a tidal wave
      of air, a massive blast, as though forged under tremendous
      compression, aimed and fired at me with the savagery of a cannon," Lt
      Col. Ranklin later described. "I was buffeted in all directions - up,
      down, sideways, clockwise, counterclockwise, over and over...I was
      rattled violently, as though a monstrous cat had caught me by the neck
      and was determined to shake me until I had gasped my last breath."

      Lt Col. Rankin was showered with hail, snow, and rain and was
      tossed around for 45 minutes - a decent three times longer than
      normal. But miraculously, his parachute remained intact and he
      eventually was spit out of the cloud, fell safely onto a field, and
      got to a hospital suffering from
      shock, frostbite and bruising.

      Lt Col. Ranklin's astonishing escape was marked
      contrast to five German glider pilots caught in a thunderstorm over
      the Rhon mountains in the late 1930s. They were forced to bail out
      when the gliders were violently tossed around in a thunderstorm. They
      were caught in winds which threw them up to the top of the cloud where
      they were coated with ice and froze to death.
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