National Geographic : 1964 Aug
Chutists jump through holes in the clouds BAEKELAND and Gimbel dropped onto a 10,500-foot shelf in the Vilcabamba on Au gust 5, 1963. Four days later, Joerns (left) and Lake (bracing for impact) joined them in the unexplored highlands. Landings in the thin air of such elevations became feasible only with the development of a novel type of parachute, the Para-Commander. Dozens of slots exhaust air out the back of the canopy, giving the chute the lifting effect of an airfoil and the forward motion of a glider. Control lines to canopy openings permit turns and some braking of the forward motion. Jumpers intended to prepare an airstrip but had to rely on airdrops when soggy ground thwarted the project. Wearing plastic helmet and goggles, Gim bel looks skyward at the plane that dropped him. Parachute lines trail away at left. 276 (ABOVE) AND PETER R. GIMBEL ( N.G .S .