Dunlap company plays key role in space jump
DUNLAP, TN. (WRCB) - The world watched as Felix Baumgartner made a record-breaking jump from the edge of space. When you're free falling faster than the speed of sound, you'd better have a good parachute to rely on. That's where a local business came into play.
Channel 3 received a behind the scenes look at how a Dunlap-based company made that life-depending equipment.
Precision Aerodynamics is well-known in the industry, designing chutes for militaries throughout the world, and special excursions, like George Bush Senior's 85th birthday jump.
Owner George Galloway says he's worked with the Red Bull Air force for the last decade and says when the team approached him with this challenge, he had to accept.
The plunge started 128,000 feet above Earth, soon Baumgartner was falling at just under 834 miles an hour. All his faith was in not crashing into Earth was put in Dunlap parachute designer George Galloway, who was anxiously watching with the rest of the world.
"I was as nervous as a cat with ten tails in a room full of rockers," Precision Aerodynamics owner George Galloway says.
Then came what's called the dreaded "flat spin."
"He first started spinning one way and then another way and as a parachute designer I'm looking at that thinking this is really not good. This is not going well," Galloway says.
He was afraid the lines would twist up and prevent the chute from opening, but it successfully opened at 5,000 feet. He says the successful landing came down to both Baumgartner's skill and the one of a kind design.
From choice of fabric, to support tapes, and suspension systems, he tells Channel 3 a lot of factors came into play designing for this mission to make it structurally sound, but not too bulky.
"To enhance performance you have to give up some reliability, so you have to figure out where you want the performance to land the winds of the New Mexico desert but at the same time you're got to have reliability," Galloway says.
Precision Aerodynamics has made around 60,000 parachutes in its near 30 years operating in Dunlap. Galloway says he's glad his team could bring some hometown pride.
"Any design without people is just a plan on paper. It takes the people of Dunlap, the people of Precision, who've actually produced this product. They're the real heroes of this story," Galloway says.
Galloway says his team actually made the 260-square feet parachute three years ago.
They did around a thousand test drops in New Mexico leading up to Baumgartner's sky-dive.
The two men have never met, but it's probably safe to say Baumgartner is thankful for the talented crew in Dunlap.