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


Join the Community.

Get your local news, your way.

Stay Connected

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

Terri Irwin 'sacks' Australia Zoo general manager

Terri, Bindi and Robert Irwin outside the Africa exhibit when it opened in 2011.

Frank Muscillo is married to Steve Irwin's sister Joy

MY SAY: Nothing funny about weddings

Sunshine Coast Daily deputy editor and columnist Damian Bathersby.

HANDS up if you cry at weddings

New Sunshine Coast CBD set to be ‘30-minute’ city

BIG PLANS: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The new Maroochydore CBD is being hailed as blueprint for new plan

Latest deals and offers

Police fury as violent attacker released from jail

THE victim of a Sunshine Coast bashing has slammed the justice system after a judge released an offender who attacked three strangers.

Terri Irwin 'sacks' Australia Zoo general manager

Terri, Bindi and Robert Irwin outside the Africa exhibit when it opened in 2011.

Frank Muscillo is married to Steve Irwin's sister Joy

MY SAY: Nothing funny about weddings

Sunshine Coast Daily deputy editor and columnist Damian Bathersby.

HANDS up if you cry at weddings

New Sunshine Coast CBD set to be ‘30-minute’ city

BIG PLANS: Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The new Maroochydore CBD is being hailed as blueprint for new plan

Man freed day after forcing family to flee in terror

Glenn Brian Tidyman, 43, (with face covered) leaves Maroochydore Watch House after being granted bail on charges of common assault and entering a dwelling with intent by break at night using violence.

Woman and her children flee home in terror.

So what's the best recipe for a healthy heart?

VITAL RESEARCH: University of the Sunshine Coast researcher Tom Bailey checks the condition of a volunteer patient as part of research into healthier hearts.

University experts give their advice on best combination

RACQ releases SE Qld's worst choke points

Paul Turner, RACQ

Paul Turner from RACQ talks about our worst roads at peak time.

British family bashed in Thailand

Family beaten and kicked unconscious by gang in Thailand.

Family beaten and kicked unconscious by gang in Thailand.

Ben Hunt wary of Sharks Halfback

Ben Hunt of the Broncos looks to pass during the round 23 NRL match between the Brisbane Broncos and the St George Illawarra Dragons at Suncorp Stadium.

Ben Hunt talks about Cronulla's Chad Townsend.

Demand for acreage lots pushes up property prices

Property values in Cooroy have increased 25%

Property values jump in Cooroy and Peachester.

How a sacked real estate agent made $725k in four months

Agent is now under investigation by the industry watchdog

RBA warns of future apartment oversupply

Toowoomba: Crest Apartments and Burke & Wills, Ruthven Street ( view from Neil Street) Photo Bev Lacey / The Chronicle

RBA says oversupply of apartments poses risk to household finances