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70 Years of Flying Under Pressure [ archive item ]

published: Friday, Mar 08, 2013

Perched at the edge of a capsule 128,100 feet above the Earth, Felix Baumgartner marveled at how small it all looks, waved, bent his knees and dropped into space. He broke the sound barrier in seconds, protected from a near-vacuum that would have boiled his blood in an instant only by a David Clark Co. pressure suit.

Local reporters would later ask company officials if they had been anxious or nervous during the record-setting plunge. How to answer that? To deny it would be to deny what becomes a very personal relationship between the select few who venture into the most hostile environments possible, and their highly specialized tailors.

"We're very fortunate in this business, because astronauts and aviators are our friends and we take our job to protect them very seriously. We want them to go home at night and see their families," said Daniel M. Barry, vice president, director of research and development, and a 25-year veteran of the company. "It is a very, very personal thing." Still, this was far from their first dance.