Record-breaking 'space jump' parachute made in Dunlap, TN
By Matt Barbour, Weekend Anchor/Reporter - bio | email
DUNLAP, TN (WRCB) -- A local company played a crucial role in executing Sunday's space jump.
A helium balloon carried Felix Baumgartner's capsule nearly 24 miles to the edge of space. He then jumped from an altitude of 128,000 feet. On the way down Baumgartner became the first human to travel faster than the speed of sound without being inside a craft. He reached a top speed of Mach 1.24, just under 834 miles an hour.
A Dunlap-based manufacturer made the parachute used in the daring act.
People around the world were watching as Felix Baumgartner leaped from his capsule, 24 miles above the Earth.
"I said to my wife, 'I wonder if that parachute was made right here in Dunlap?"
Dunlap Mayor Dwain Land had good reason ask that question. It turns out, the parachute was made at Dunlap-based 'Precision Aerodynamics.'
"It could have been made anywhere in the world. But that parachute was made in Dunlap, Tennessee by the Galloways," says Land.
George Galloway got into the parachute business back in 1975 and in 1983 located to Dunlap.
"I've watched his business grow in Dunlap from a small building to a large building," says Land.
Land has been friends with Galloway for several years.
Over the past decades his company has developed numerous pieces of prototype parachute equipment, setting standards throughout the industry.
"It's just amazing the work they put into each chute. I guess they treat them as if they were going to jump with that chute themselves," says Land.
Now Precision Aerodynamics is a part of history.
"I had called and congratulated them. And they're low key and all. They said, 'Yeah, we're happy. We held our breath."
And they're not the only ones. Everyone watching the space jump held their breath, waiting for that parachute to open.
"This is a key component in the whole jump! If the parachute doesn't open, then, you know," says Land, with a laugh.
But Land knew without a doubt it would open. And he and the rest of Dunlap had even more to celebrate once Baumgartner touched down.
"Proud. I was very proud. Ecstatic, that something of this nature, of this magnitude, our community, a small community like Dunlap, Tennessee, could play such an important role," says Land.
We tried to reach out to Galloway for an interview but apparently he's a little shy of the limelight.
Land says he serves as an excellent example of someone starting their own business and chasing after the American dream.