News

Reaching for the sky

Cooroy-based builder John Jenkins (left) will take control of a MIG 29 fighter heading into the stratosphere at about twice the speed of sound.
Cooroy-based builder John Jenkins (left) will take control of a MIG 29 fighter heading into the stratosphere at about twice the speed of sound. SASA RADICAP

JOHN Jenkins may head Cooroy-based building company Ricon, that has Federal Government accreditation and employs up to 300 people on projects in remote desert locations, but right now he's more like an excited nine-year-old about to head off on his first school camp.

What's got him pumped is the gift he's bought himself for his 50th birthday on May 22.

An avid mountain climber who has tackled Kilimanjaro, his life-time ambition has been to reach the summit at Everest.

Age and failing knees may have put an end to that pursuit but the former British Special Forces soldier has found a real blast of a way to spend his birthday.

He flies to Moscow next week where he will receive training and a medical assessment at a Russian military air base, learn the rudiments of flying a MIG 29 fighter aircraft, be fitted with a pressure suit and then, with an air force pilot at the controls, fly 24kms straight up into the stratosphere.

At that height he will experience weightlessness, releasing a tennis ball that will hang suspended in the cabin before plummeting back to Earth at two and a half times the speed of sound.

At some point he will take control of the plane for six kilometres where he will pilot some basic manoeuvres.

Then, after a series of aerobatics above Moscow, the plane will fly at just 10m above ground breaking the sound barrier.

"I won't have the controls then," he laughed yesterday.

The pressure on his body when the MIG is at full throttle will be nine times his body weight.

Jenkins has been told if he starts to see in black and white he needs to signal the pilot to back off before he blacks out.

That's not something you'd want to do on a 50 minute journey costing $30,000.

The price of a ride into the heavens may seem steep but the MIG will burn five tonne of fuel and requires a staff of 120 to stay in the air.

Jenkins has paid a bit extra to have the entire ride captured from a series of angles both in and outside the cabin, a lifetime reminder of a 10-day break a world away from the pressures of a growing business.

Topics:  mt everest, russia


Stay Connected

Update your news preferences and get the latest news delivered to your inbox.

Coffee Tardis helps local women reconnect with work

OUTSIDE THE BOX: Shane Hogan, Paul Spooner, Celeste Harris, Anne Goslett, Trevor Sleep, Helen Hamilton, Rod McKelvey and Rodney Contojohon.

Pay it forward at the Coffee BOX opening in Byron bay next week.

Take a look at the draft plan for Byron’s coast

Byron Shire Council have said they’d love to have your input

ELECTION 2016: Richmond candidates address affordable housing and negative gearing.

AFFORDABLE: Are places like the Kollective in Sunrise the answer for affordable medium density housing.

Will negative gearing changes produce more affordable housing

Latest deals and offers

Vale Barb Pinter- community champion

BARB Pinter, founder of the Byron Breast Cancer Support Group, passed away last Saturday after living with cancer for many years.

Coffee Tardis helps local women reconnect with work

OUTSIDE THE BOX: Shane Hogan, Paul Spooner, Celeste Harris, Anne Goslett, Trevor Sleep, Helen Hamilton, Rod McKelvey and Rodney Contojohon.

Pay it forward at the Coffee BOX opening in Byron bay next week.

Take a look at the draft plan for Byron’s coast

Byron Shire Council have said they’d love to have your input

ELECTION 2016: Richmond candidates address affordable housing and negative gearing.

AFFORDABLE: Are places like the Kollective in Sunrise the answer for affordable medium density housing.

Will negative gearing changes produce more affordable housing

Build a fence around Byron and charge admission, says mayor

It might be the only way this tourist town can get grant funding

Is it ice cream? Is it poo? It’s Splendour art

In 2015 we learned that the infamous 'poo emoji' is actually an image of ice cream, so Mr Poopie will be a fitting Splendour homage to such a first world problem.

A fitting homage to the king of emojis

Failed funding bid won’t stop the show at NORPA

HIT: NORPA's 2015 production of Railway Wonderland.

No NORPA shows affected after funding rejected by Australia Council.

Perfect time to invest in Northern Rivers property

The Northern Rivers rental market is tighter than Sydney making it the perfect time for investors to get better returns out of property than superannuation or banks deposits.

Low interest rates and tight rental market are prime time to invest