19 Astonishing Facts
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A pilot ejected his seat over a thunderstorm and survived a 45-minute fall!


William Rankin is the only person known to have survived a fall from the top of a cumulonimbus thunderstorm cloud. Rankin was a pilot in the US Marine Corps and participated in both World War II and the Korean War. One day in 1959 he was flying from Massachusetts to South Carolina when he encountered a massive thunderstorm. 
He began to climb, attempting to fly over the worst of the storm, yet at 45,000 feet he heard a loud thump and was forced to eject his seat into the -58 degree Fahrenheit air. Frostbite hit immediately and the decompression was so intense that his eyes, ears, nose, and mouth started to bleed. Rankin began to fall to the ground and severely panic after five minutes had passed and his parachute still hadn’t deployed. 
With almost zero-visibility and surrounded by a massive thunderstorm, Rankin was extremely confused why he had still not hit the ground after ten minutes. Carried by updrafts and being pelted with hail, he realized that he was being dragged up and down in the wind, which lasted over 45 minutes! 
He says that although it sounds amazingly cool after the fact, during the event he was absolutely terrified and had never felt so terrible as he continually vomited from the spinning and pressure changes. At 6:40 pm he descended into a forest in North Carolina and strangely was completely healthy. 
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