Burkhard Bilger last summer in the New Yorker wrote a fascinating profile of Michel Fournier, a retired French army parachutist who has spent quite a bit of his retirement and his savings on chasing the world record for highest parachute jump. The article is no longer online (there is an abstract) but it is well worth digging up from your local library. Fournier has attempted the jump a handful of times already, only to be foiled by last-minute snafus. As the profile explains, it is a tremendously complicated thing to hurl oneself out of a balloon basket at 130,000 feet. Quite a lot can go wrong.