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February 1st, 1966 – Nicholas Piantanida reached an unofficial world record altitude of 123,500 feet (or 21.21 miles) above sea level in an air balloon created by our very own Raven Industries and launched from Sioux Falls, SD!


The achievement was bitter sweet due to complications. Once he had reached altitude, Nicholas was unable to release his air hose from the gondola, requiring him to cut the gondola loose from the balloon and “ride” it down to the ground rather than a pure human free fall.


A second attempt in May would end in tragedy after Piantanida’s face mask broke which led to oxygen deprivation. Rescue teams tried to revive his unconscious body on the ground, but were unable. It is unfortunate that, his great achievement is forever marred by tragedy.
For both its splendor and untimely end, this is truly a day to be remembered in Sioux Falls history!