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tv   Caught on Camera  MSNBC  May 10, 2015 12:00pm-1:01pm PDT

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we appreciate them. >> that's all for today. fathers out there, i hope you figure this out, it's mother's day. we'll be back next week. if it's sunday, it's "meet the press." a when our feet leave the ground, there's no telling how high we can go. >> you said, wow, i wish i could get on that cloud and float. >> i said to myself, if i see blackness, i'm going to freak out. >> or how hard we can fall. >> i thought most likely i'm about to die. because 60 feet is not enough for my pair chute to open. >> in this hour, two midair collisions send daredevils plummeting to earth. >> the main fear with being hit is to be knocked out or killed. a lurching plane drops from the sky and crashes into a lake. >> it's hard to imagine anybody
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surviving that. and a man teetering on the edge requires a harrowing rescue 70 stories above the streets of new york. >> the fear in this situation is really the unpredictability of it. "caught on camera: up in the air." >> welcome to "caught on camera." i'm contessa brewer. throughout history humans have looked for ways to soar, if only for a little while. flying, floating and even free falling, as you will see, a lot can go wrong high up in the air. some of the stories are about dreamers who find new ways to conquer new heights and others are about daredevils who relish that trip down. but our first story is about a man at a low point in his life and the effort high above a city street to save him.
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70 stories above the streets of new york, a desperate man contemplates ending his life by jumping from the top of one of the city's landmark skyscrapers. >> obviously something has brought him to the edge, and we want to figure out quickly as possible, but the job could always go very wrong. >> august 10, 2011. detectives james cole and sean solar of the new york city police department's emergency services unit are on duty when the call comes in. >> we started our shift at 3:15 that afternoon. and almost immediately as soon as we finished loading up and checking our equipment, a call came over that there was a jumper up on the top of 30 rockefeller plaza. >> the detectives race to midtown manhattan where the 23-year-old man dangles his legs precariously from the 70th floor observation deck of 30 rock.
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>> the first thing i see when i get up there is him furiously scribbling at the notepad. i tried to communicate with him as much as possible. >> several onlookers and the local nbc affiliate's sky cam records the action as it unfolds. >> he was on the northeast corner standing on approximately a 2 foot by 2 foot wide piece of the building. >> there was a seven-foot glass partition between us and him. what i initially did was climbed up on top of a piece of the building where i could talk down over the partition at him. seeing them helps you communicate. >> i want to position myself to the other side of the individual. >> he was kind of limited to that one corner of the building. that's something we tried to do as soon as we got on the scene. >> as police clear the streets below to protect bystanders from possible injury, the detectives begin a dialogue with a distraught man. >> at one point, he handed me his bag saying, give this to my mom.
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i immediately handed it back and said you're going to give it to your mom when we resolve this. we wanted to let him know even though he feels no one is there communicating with him or listening to him, that we are there listening and to help him. >> the glass wall and strong winds make it difficult for detective solar to hear the conversation. in a very bold move, he scales the glass barrier and gets on the ledge. >> to load a piece of glass with over 200 pounds when i'm fully geared, it was a concern of mine when i went over it. if that kind of piece of glass were to break and shatter, it's going to fall to the street level, which could hit an innocent bystander that's in the street. >> detective solar says he fakes injuring himself to appear more vulnerable and less threatening to the subject. once over the glass partition, he's in a position to grab the man, should he jump. but even with safety harnesses, the detectives are risking their lives.
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>> the fear in this situation is really the unpredictability of it. the person on the edge is obviously distraught. you don't know if they are going to become violent. >> if the subject became agitated and wanted to strike at me, there was a very good possibility that he would not only fall himself but actually bring me down with him. >> to defuse the situation, the detectives offer the man some water and cigarettes. >> he said he didn't smoke. we made a joke, this might be a time to start. and he kind of laughed at that. >> what that does for us is it allows me to move a little closer to the subject. it also allows him to understand that i'm there to help. >> eventually he started to talk and he said he was there because he had just lost his job, and a manuscript that he had written, he couldn't get published. it's a good sign that someone is on the edge and they are continuing to communicate with you. if they are communicating with you, they're not jumping. >> according to the new york
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city's department of health, nearly one in ten suicides in the city is an out-of-towner who chooses to take their life at a well-known landmark, just like this nevada resident is threatening to do. >> at one point, he did stand up and put his hands on the glass. at that point, we weren't sure if he was going to push himself off the glass and try to jump, whether he was going to try to climb up on the glass and jump from there or scale the glass and try to do like a self-rescue. >> cole makes a split-second decision. >> at that point, i jumped from where i was positioned to kind of block him from being able to push himself off the building. >> when the subject started to move over, we hoisted him up a little bit. the other crew on the roof safely brought him to the top of the roof. >> once he was over the glass and he was secured in handcuffs, then we know that the job is pretty much over. >> at this point in time, where we try to continue to talk to him and explain to him that he's
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making a very smart decision in handling the situation the way he did. >> the man tells police that he suffers from schizophrenia and is immediately taken to a mental hospital for an evaluation. >> any time a job goes as well as this job, it's always a feeling of a sense of accomplishment. >> i think any one of us in the emergency service unit when we have the opportunity to help someone, it's definitely a sense of satisfaction. but then we're kind of off to the next job. coming up -- a plane slams into a lake. >> it's hard to imagine anybody surviving that. >> and when shifting winds push a skydiver off course -- >> nine times out of ten you're going to hit what you're trying to miss. >> -- brace for impact. you do all this research on the perfect car. gas mileage , horse power... torque ratios. three spreadsheets later you finally bring home the one.
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a peaceful day of fishing in summer ends in disaster when a small airplane comes barreling out of the sky and slams into a lake. >> holy [ bleep ]. >> water spraying 80 to 100 feet in the air. pieces of the plane flying everywhere. it's hard to imagine anybody surviving that. >> july 29, 1994. waterford, michigan. mark gomez is shooting his public access fishing show on pontiac lake, hoping to reel in a big catch for the camera. >> all morning long, there had been a plane or two that crossed over the lake. but there was one plane that came over and sounded like it stalled. that's when i realized that the plane was in trouble. tape that, man, tape it. >> the airplane's pilot elliott rappoport and his passengers are on their way to an air show in
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oshkosh, wisconsin, when the engine suddenly fails. >> and then about 800 feet, the engine began to sputter. now, i figured that landing in the water with my gear up was probably the best choice that i had. >> gomez speeds over to the wreckage to see how he can help. fortunately, the plane crashes in only about four feet of water, so it doesn't sink. >> i got there very fast. there was already people in the water calmly bringing the people out. >> bystanders are able to rescue the two injured passengers from the wreckage, but they need help with rappoport. he's still inside the cockpit and bleeding from his head.
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>> the camera guy, he got a little squeamish about the whole thing. so i grabbed the camera, and i started shooting after that. i was more concerned about making sure i got the scene on tape. >> sergeant john holland is the only fireman on duty in white lake township when the call comes in. >> when i first arrived there, i see the aircraft, the nose down. i can still see the pilot in the plane. with that type of impact, an aircraft has basically fallen out of the sky hitting the water, my biggest concerns are spinal injuries. >> the situation seems under control, but sergeant holland knows there are hidden dangers. a two-ton plane leaking 75 gallons of jet fuel can be a recipe for disaster. >> when you get any type of incident like this, you start getting everybody wants to come and look. you've got fuel in the water. you have a combustion engine coming in. the fuel could be ignited. >> despite the danger, holland
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goes in after the pilot. >> i actually received first-degree burns around my upper chest and under my arms in the fuel. it was burning. it felt like having acid on your skin. >> but in the adrenaline-fueled moment, holland doesn't feel his injuries yet. he's focused on rescuing the pilot. >> i just kind of floated a backboard underneath him to support his spine and bring him to the shoreline. >> fortunately, everyone survives the crash. but the pilot, elliott rappoport, doesn't believe luck had anything to do with it. >> the training that i had, i believe, is what saved my life. had i not had that, i probably would have spiraled down and crashed. >> rappoport and the two passengers suffer the same spinal cord injuries.
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a crushed l-2 vertebra, with one significant difference. >> the passengers recovered completely from the injury. and being a little bit older, my injury continued after the fact. and i was never able to get into an airplane again. just pleased that i had the training that i did have, and i was able to come out as a whole person. >> did you get that? >> yes. >> coming up -- >> i started to see zach slightly move backwards. i went oh, no, no, don't do that. >> midair collisions and miscalculations send daredevils dropping from the sky. >> you can wind up with closing speeds in excess of 200 miles an hour. >> plummeting 6,000 feet into a frozen wilderness. >> i felt like i was about to die because 60 feet is not enough for my parachute to open.
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a spectacular aerial stunt goes horribly wrong. not one, but two midair collisions 10,000 feet above the earth, causing chaos in the skies. wing suit fliers are daredevils outfitted in aerodynamic suits allowing them to two at speeds faster than 120 miles an hour. it's the closest a human can get to actually taking flight. >> basically i feel like i've got my own private and personal f-16. >> your arms are your wings. your legs are your engines. wherever you go, you fly to that place. what else can you do that feels like that? >> scott bland and scotty burns are veterans of the high octane sport.
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>> you know, most people ride a roller coaster for a thrill. that's just about something to put me to sleep. >> but the greater the thrill, the greater the danger. >> i would say the most dangerous thing is the risk of collision. if you lose sight of somebody else that you're flying with, you can wind up with closing speeds in excess of 200 miles an hour. >> the main fear with being hit is to be knocked out or killed. >> the biggest risk for collision comes when wing suiters fly dangerously close to each other in formations called flocks. and the most important person in the flock is the base. the person flying out front, guiding the team toward their target. and there's nobody scotty burns would want as his leader more than his good friend scott bland. >> scott's been leader of more large formations than anybody else on the planet. the number one thing that we know is we can always trust him to get us home. >> they look to me for the point of reference. i have to go a rate and a speed
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and hold it there no matter what happens. >> if he falters in any way, his flock could be thrown into a state of chaos. >> if we're all going in the same direction, if we're all doing the same thing, the chance of collision is fairly low. but that can change. >> and it can change in an instant. like it did on a clear day two miles over puerto rico. bland is struck by another wing suiter and starts spiraling out of control toward the earth. february 16, 2008. it's the third day of the annual puerto rico free-fall festival. scott bland, scotty burns and their team have been having a blast. >> that day was another perfect day in paradise. it's gorgeous down there. the beaches are beautiful. the water is beautiful. and the sky diving is terrific. >> their team has been jumping out of planes all morning.
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on their fifth jump of the day, they decide to ratchet up the adrenaline to try one of the most dangerous formations a flock can perform. it's called the stack. >> it's when you get a number of wing suiters actually flying one over top of the other. you can only see what's in front of your eyes. so you have a hard time seeing the people behind you. you have to rely on those people to do the right thing and not fly into you. definitely, a large risk whenever a stack goes wrong. >> but all seems okay on exit. team leader scott bland points the flock toward the drop zone as scotty burns and another wing-suit diver shoot the action from the wing. and that's when it happens. fellow wing suiter zach hits a pocket of dead air caused by another flier's wake. >> i started to see zach slightly move backwards. i went, oh, no. don't do that.
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>> he's dropping like a bowling ball and slams right into the back of bland's legs, sending the base of the stack into a free fall. it's a scary moment, but bland recovers quickly. scotty burns, with his camera still rolling, dives to check on his friend. >> i flew over next to him and gave him an okay signal. he had a big old smile on his face and kind of a look like what the heck was that? >> and i know what he interpreted as a smile was a grimace, but that i said ouch. >> bland is hurting, but he has a bigger concern. >> i didn't know if my gear had been damaged. my pilot chute or some other part of my gear could have been opened and i might not have been aware of it. i could see from his face looking straight at my face that nothing else was wrong. so at that point, i knew i was okay. >> bland immediately turns his attention to the safety of his team members who start reforming
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around him. >> i need to make sure i am aiming myself back towards the drop zone to make sure i'm safe and to make sure everybody else gets back. i consider that my responsibility as the person on the bottom. >> but as quickly as bland reorients himself, unbelievably, it happens again. another pocket of dead air, and another midair collision. this time, two different wing-suit fliers. as they tumble in the sky, the team reaches 5,000 feet and bland signals to pull their parachutes, unsure if everyone is accounted for. >> after we opened the parachutes, i look around to see the correct number of people are there. i knew how many people we had in the flock when we left the airplane. and then i counted that number of parachutes, plus mine, when we opened. so i knew everybody had a parachute open. they could have been hurt, but they weren't dead. >> when they land, bland finds out that everybody in the group
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is okay. his legs and back are very sore from the impact, but more than anything, he's thankful the episode is over. >> it was a huge feeling of relief to finally get my feet back on the ground. there a rule, that it's better to be down here wishing you were up there, than to be up there wishing you were down here. >> but if you think this brush with death will cause scott bland to stop jumping out of planes, think again. >> a lot of people look at sky diving and say these people are just nuts. they have a death wish. this is not the kind of thing i could do. there's no payoff without some kind of risk. and if you take a graduated risk, the payoff can be well worth it. jumping from 6,000 feet above one of the coldest and most remote places on earth, a wing-suit flier misjudges his
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altitude and crashes into a snow-packed mountain. >> it was a trip of a lifetime. and it nearly ended up costing me my life. >> april 10, 2009. kamchatka peninsula, russia. professional wing-suit pilot james boole is traveling to russia's far east to shoot a documentary on its extreme landscape. >> it's covered in snow for nine months a year. it has the most active volcanos than any country on the planet. they call it the land of fire and ice. >> it is the final of the trip and he's eager to make it one of the most thrilling. >> we had done three other jumps that day. and it was obvious to everybody this was going to be the last jump because it was getting dark. we were nearly out of daylight. >> boole follows the lead wing-suit flier as he jumps from the helicopter into an icy gorge. >> i was filming. to help me frame the video, i had a ring site on my left eye. i wasn't looking through both
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eyes for quite a lot of the jump. you lose your depth perception quite a little bit, plus the fact we're flying on snow. and in cloudy day, towards sunset, you can't make out the texture. it's just white. >> the plan is for boole to deploy his parachute at 600 feet, just after the lead wing-suit flier opens his. although it's dangerously low to the ground, boole is determined to capture as much of the flight as he can. >> so i was very committed to stay there until either he pulled or i just knew that we were at 600 feet. >> boole is more focused on getting the shot than his altitude until the other flier pulls his chute. >> i saw him reach for his parachute. but he immediately, in my peripheral vision, i saw the ground. rather than being at 600 feet, i was at more like 60 feet. i could see the texture of the snow and ice. so then i thought most likely i'm about to die because 60 feet is not enough for a parachute to open. i'm still doing over 100 miles per hour. >> he pulls his parachute hoping for a miracle.
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>> the parachute didn't open in time, but what it did do is it slowed me down enough that i'm still here today. i swung out and i landed flat on my back. which spread out the force of the impact. if it had opened a little bit before, i would land on my legs, and i would have gotten internal injuries. >> boole fractures his spine, breaks some ribs and bruises his lungs but amazingly, survives the 6,000-foot drop. >> my initial feeling was parachuting, flying, all gone, finished. three, two, one. >> but time heals wounds, and boole can't stay grounded for long. >> after six months, i started to miss jumping. to be happy in my life, this is what i do. this is what i am. i'm a jumper. i fly. >> welcome back. coming up -- a thrilling jump ends in utter
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i'm richard lui. three people have been arrested in connection with the fatal shootings of two mississippi police officers during a traffic stop. more severe weather in the plains states and midwest. already there are reports of a tornado hitting a small town in south dakota and a spring snowstorm also causing trouble today in parts of colorado, nebraska and south dakota. now back to "caught on camera." welcome back to "caught on camera." i'm contessa brewer. the history of sky diving dates back to 1485 when leonardo da vinci sketched the first
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blueprints for a parachute. these days, hundreds of thousands of people jump from high places and planes every year, deploying parachutes to bring them safely back to earth. according to the united states parachute association, the likelihood of a fatal crash is roughly 1 in 140,000. and the sky diver you're about to see escapes that fate by the skin of his teeth. an experienced sky diver is sailing down to earth at 45 miles per hour. like he's done more than 300 times before. but this time, something goes horribly wrong. >> are you okay? >> i've been in other situations where i've got out of them. this one here where the winds happened to catch me at the wrong time. i had to make some really fast decisions.
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and obviously, it didn't pan out the way i wanted it to. i was hoping to miss it, but i didn't miss the trailer. >> april 30, 2011. high above colorado's fremont county airport sky diving instructor tommy ferguson is preparing for his third and final jump of the day. >> i had already put out two loads of students. the day was going great. this was my third jump that day. i tell the other two jumpers that i will film them coming out. >> ferguson gets out on the strut of the plane to capture the other sky divers as they jump the nearly 4,000 feet to earth. >> i just let go of the aircraft and watch it fly away, which is what you do. >> after free falling for several seconds, ferguson pulls his parachute and plots a plan for landing. >> i was facing into the wind the whole time. i'm thinking, i'm not going to make it back. i look down. maybe i should just land there.
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>> ferguson decides to land about 80 yards north of his intended target until a sudden burst of wind knocks him back on course. >> all of a sudden, it was like i got a big gust of wind from my backside. almost like a downdraft. like just pushing down on me. >> ferguson is heading directly for the trailer, parked inside the drop zone, which is used to pick up jumpers once they land. >> i got fixated on the trailer. and when you get fixation, nine times out of ten, you're going to hit what you're trying to miss. >> the last thing i remember was i said, well, if i turn now, i could actually do what we call a hook turn right into the ground. >> hook turns can be used to avoid obstacles by doing a sudden 90-degree turn just before landing. but they can be fatal if attempted too low to the ground. at the last second, ferguson chooses not to hook turn and slams into the trailer.
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it may not look like it, but it's a decision that may have saved his life. >> it was a week later. a gentleman did the same thing up around denver. he hook turned it and hit the ground. he's dead. >> ferguson survives the impact, but he doesn't escape injury. >> i broke eight bones. i bruised my left lung. my arm was yanked out of its socket. that's where it broke the brachial plexus, which is all the nerves that control the left side of your arm, your hand, your fingers and stuff like that. >> every nerve is severed and ferguson loses all feeling and movement in his left arm. 3 1/2 months after the accident, he makes a difficult decision. >> i literally asked them to take my arm off. it was cumbersome. it was just hanging off of me. it's doing nothing. my doctor said, yeah, there's no use keeping it there.
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>> ferguson may have suffered a serious injury, but that won't stop him from taking flight again. >> i just enjoy the sport. and as soon as my amputation heals up, i'm going to be back in the sky again with one arm. just when new yorkers think they've seen it all, a woman dangles without a safety harness from one of new york city's monumental bridges. twisting and turning 300 feet above rush hour traffic. and if you're wondering, this is not legal. >> when i said fly high or die, what i was really saying was give me liberty or give me death. >> july 11, 2011. aerial dancer seana sharp prepares for one of the most dangerous performances of her life.
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>> i knew i would be performing on the williamsburg bridge the second i laid eyes on it. it wasn't a question of if. it was a matter of when. >> on the williamsburg bridge, ava is one of a few people with a camera on that bridge. >> a friend of mine e-mailed me the day of her performance and said come out today to the bridge. something amazing is going to happen. i brought my camera with me not really knowing what to expect. >> sharp and a fellow performer carrying a camera scale the tower in about seven minutes where she attaches her silk cloud swing 300 feet above the deck. >> the silk cloud swing is a double trapeze made out of silk. it opens so you can twist, spin side to side, back and forth. it basically gives an incredible versatility. >> once the swing is securely rigged, sharp begins her dance. >> as soon as i got there, she was sort of enrobed in the silk. that's when i started shooting.
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and i just thought, i'm committed to keeping the camera on her. >> i had actually choreographed this scene as a duo, but at the last minute, my partner decided that he didn't feel comfortable doing it. i ended up doing an improvisational solo instead. >> it was stunning to see this massive metal industrial looking structure and this tiny like, you know, fairy-like creature suspended from these silks. there's a moment where she drops. even though i was so mesmerized, i thought, well, she could have fallen then. >> i've been an aerialist for seven years and i've never fallen. there's no difference between not falling 13 feet and not falling 300 feet. when your body knows how to fly, it's not going to let you fall. >> but after about 15 minutes, the high winds whipping sharp
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around take their toll. fatigue sets in. >> i didn't want to push it anymore than i already had. and i was exhausted. i was ready to come down. >> i think that people were really excited and proud that she was doing this. and that they were there to see it. so much so that when the police came, people were cheering for her and showing their support. >> i wanted people to see that i was being arrested not for breaking the law but for breaking tradition. >> sharp is arrested and charged with multiple crimes, including she's locked up in rikers island for three days before she's released on bail. 9 felony charges are lessened to misdemeanors in court. sharp is offered a plea deal and pleads guilty to the reduced charges. her sentence? five free aerial shows for children. >> my decision was neither reckless nor endangering of others. it was planned.
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controlled. considered. part of the reason i planned it the way i did was so that if i did fall, i would fall on the subway tracks. >> i hope through the capturing on video that we can appreciate what humans are capable of in such beauty and grace and strength and bravery. >> the two most commonly asked questions are why did you do it? and would you do it again? to the first i say because i can. and the second, i never do the same thing twice. coming up -- >> i said to myself if i see blackness, i'm going to freak out. >> a father and son let their imaginations soar. >> we were just stunned. it was the most incredible thing ever. ♪ (piano music) fresher dentures, for the best first impression.
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a father/son project elevates a homemade aircraft higher than they ever imagined. >> i said to myself, if i see blackness, i'm going to freak out. of course that meant space. >> when we saw the blackness of space and the curvature of the earth and that blue glow that the earth gives off, we were just stunned. it was the most incredible thing ever. >> cinematographer luke geissbuhler loves doing cool projects with his son max, especially when they involve cameras. >> we came upon this project online. and the potential of the outcome was so huge that we couldn't pass it up. >> the boys plan on launching a camera into space with the aid of a helium-filled weather balloon.
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>> it took about eight months to research it and build different crafts and do tests. >> i mean we attached a parachute to like a little thingy to it from the kitchen window down to the backyard and we found place to deploy. >> we did a little altitude test because we wanted to put it up in the air and bring it down. >> the first model of it had wings and a tail fin. >> we were looking at things like how shaky it would be, how much it would be influenced by wind, things like that. it actually told us a lot. >> it's essential the aircraft rise and fall with as little resistance as possible. this will keep it stable enough to capture a steady shot. >> the foam outside was done with spray insulation that you'd use for your windows in your home, and that made kind of a hard case and kind of made it this hamburger shape that was very aerodynamic.
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>> we spray-painted it so we could see it if it fell in the forest. it was traffic cone paint, so it really stood out. >> although the neon paint will make it easier to spot, they will need something much more dependable if they want to find it. >> an iphone seemed to have the best app to track the balloon. it gives you longitude and latitude but altitude as well. >> if you lost your phone, you would have where to track it. and we could follow it. >> next to the camera was a little hd camera that's used for sky diving stunts and motor sports and things like that. the whole craft with the camera and tracking system is within the four-pound limit for faa regulations. >> august 11th, 2010, newburgh, new york. after eight months of prep work, launch day finally arrives. >> when we were assembling the
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balloon, the two kids, max and his best friend miles were just so excited. >> we bought like some lollipops so me and miles were really hyped up. >> the kids give this really great countdown. >> ten, nine, eight, seven, six, five, four, three, two, one, zero, blast off! >> we cut off the balloon. >> it started rocking wildly like crazy. it was 25 feet a second. it was pretty fast. after about two minutes, it disappeared into the clouds. >> they track the craft's coordinates. but that's no guarantee they'll be able to retrieve it. >> the batteries in the phone could freeze. it could just not give out signal and we'll never find it. if it falls into anything that would block the transmission, it falls into very dense trees too deeply, it could lose reception. if it falls into water, that would be very bad.
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a lot of things can go wrong. >> until they recover the craft, it will be a mystery as to what the camera captures. fortunately, it lands only 30 miles north of the launch site. and they're able to retrieve the footage. >> to be totally honest, we got a little sick watching it. because we were eating and watching it at our kitchen table the first time. and we were so focused on the screen and eating at the same time. and it's whooshes around. >> but once it reaches the stratosphere, everything levels out. >> we were shooting from about 80,000 feet. twice as high as a plane. three times as high as a plane. >> according to his iphone, the craft peaks at 100,000 feet or nearly 19 miles above the earth on its 95-minute voyage. >> at the very end, the balloon is stretched to its absolute maximum capacity. it was about 22 feet in diameter. it's enormous.
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a little craft below it. >> it got like that big. because the pressure lightens as you get up. there isn't a lot of oxygen. and the air is very thin. >> the pressure of the helium greater than the surrounding air pressure. so it continues to expand until finally the balloon pops and the craft comes plummeting back to earth at more than 100 miles an hour. >> so the parachute deploys maybe 30 seconds after the balloon bursts. it doesn't do anything until it gets to heavier air. >> at one point, it rocked head over heels. even though it didn't have head or heels. it was just like that. it was pretty amazing because there's a lot of reasons it wouldn't work. >> i've shot a lot of things, and that by far takes the cake as the most impressive thing i have ever shot. coming up --
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party balloons, a lawn chair and a dream. >> you look up and see a little cloud. you say, i wish i could get on that cloud and float. right now, verizon is offering unlimited talk. when "caught on camera" returns. shareable data. yeah, 10 gigantic gigs. for $80 a month. and $15 per line. more data than ever. for more of what you want. on the network that's #1 in speed. call. data. and reliability. so you never have to settle. $80 a month. for 10 gigs. and $15 per line. stop by or visit us online. and save without settling. only on verizon.
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a gas station owner lives out his childhood fantasy, floating nearly 18,000 feet above the earth tethered to dozens of brightly colored balloons. >> some of my best memories are as a child. you look up and see a little cloud. i wish i could get on that cloud and float. it's a wonderful, peaceful experience. >> this is not just a flight of fancy for kent couch. in 2008, he tries to break his own record for number of miles traveled in what's called a cluster balloon. >> i call cluster ballooning simply a way to get up in the air with a group of balloons.
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some people would use weather balloons. i've never done that. party balloons seem real dependable. the funny thing is usually i use a lawn chair because it's comfortable and i can recline it and i can lean back. it's kind of redneck, and i'm kind of redneck. >> there are some federal aviation rules to follow. but remarkably, as long as couch's aircraft stays under 254 pounds, he isn't required to have a pilot's license nor is he required to register with the faa. but couch does need some technical assistance. >> mark noel is my friend who has done a great job of making everything better. he's a techie guy who thinks about things i don't think about. >> it might look unsafe, but a lot of care and attention has gone to make it very safe. >> cluster ballooning has come a long way since it was first attempted in the early 1930s. kent's lawn chair is outfitted with all the gear he'll need to survive a long trip. from a gps system so his ground
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crew can track him, to an oxygen tank so he can breathe above 13,000 feet. and lucky for us, it also includes cameras to document his voyages. but in preparation for breaking his record, the most valuable tool for couch is the experience he's gained from his earlier attempts. like this white knuckle flight in 2007. >> in that '07 flight the wind would shoot me one way or the other. it was a little bit treacherous air. but fatigue got to me on that trip because i had a big old parachute and it was bumpy. my back was killing me. and i was running out of ballast. >> ballast is any weight that improves an aircraft's stability. couch prefers to use water. >> he gets down too low then he drops water out so he can go back up. then when he gets too high, he pops a couple balloons to come back down. running out of ballast is the end of the ride in terms of his
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ability to control his altitude. each time it made things a little better just learning from the previous flight. >> i started using a pilot's parachute, which is nice and comfortable. we had more balloons, more ballast, we got more security and safety. better communication between the ground crew. >> july 5, 2008. kent couch attempts to fly from bend, oregon, to boise, idaho, and break his record of 193 miles traveled in a cluster balloon. >> on launch day, we had to be up at 3:30 in the morning. >> it's usually about 50 to 70 volunteers that make this thing work. we'd normally have four or six helium stations. each station has four people on it with a different role. >> it takes a minute or two to blow up one balloon. we don't want to blow them up all the way because we want room for them to expand. >> after all the balloons are staged, we put them in clusters of five.
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then you start assembling the groups of five into larger assemblies of 15 or 20. >> once everything checks out, couch kisses his wife and, with cameras rolling, begins the ascent. >> for the most part, i can't steer myself. that's what i like about this little cluster ballooning thing. you just go where the winds take you. >> the thing you wouldn't realize is how peaceful it is up there. it's super quiet. he's traveling at the same speed of the wind. even when he was moving at 50 miles an hour, he could set a napkin on his knee, and it wouldn't go anywhere. >> it's just like you're floating on a cloud. you start living a moment of what you dreamed as a child. >> nearly nine hours later, couch crosses the state line into idaho, but he's not going to make it to boise. the winds have pushed him off course about 85 miles north of the city. >> i was a bit tired of being up there. i'm not a guy to sit still. >> despite missing the mark, he
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knows he's still broken his previous record. so couch prepares to land. >> you got to have a way to make sure you can get these balloons popped on the way down. my preference is a daisy red rider bb gun. >> it only takes a couple of balloons to change him from ascending to descending. >> i'm coming in on a gradual descent. i'm looking for an open area. not many fences. no wires or houses or roads. that's what i'm hoping for. >> couch touches down in cambridge, idaho, to a hero's welcome. his new record is 235 miles. >> so i think the next flight i'm going to get enough balloons and ballast to go to 25,000 feet. and then see if i can stay out overnight, i could maybe break my old record and go farther. maybe i could go 500 miles. >> luckily, cluster ballooning is a rare pastime. these homemade aircraft require skill and training to operate safely as well as a fair amount of luck.
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i'm contessa brewer. that's all for this edition of "caught on camera." a good time can turn ugly in a hurry. >> i looked up, and i see a tv coming out the window. >> thousands of people, no way out. >> panic in a chicago nightclub packed to four times capacity. >> they started running down the stairs. and somebody fell, and then somebody fell on top of them. a soccer game goro


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