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Le Grand Saut: Great Excursions helps guide Michel Fournierís Big Jump


When French parachutist Michel Fournier first came to the Canadian Prairies to undertake his super jump in 2002, he turned to The Great Excursions Company to help make his dream come true. Today, the adventure tourism operatorís founder, Claude-Jean Harel, still provides logistical assistance and destination management services for the mission.

ďMichelís project is profoundly evocative as human experiences go. It is impossible not to be drawn along into the dream, no matter how difficult to achieve it seems. The Big Jump has faced challenges that would have led many to give up along the way, had Michelís leadership in inspiring his team ever been in doubt. The simple fact is that everyone believes Michel can succeed; that every scientist, astronaut and Canadian, French, British or American citizen who has approached me about Michel Fournierís project wants him to succeed is quite telling.Ē

When Fournier launches what is otherwise known as Le Grand Saut, rising in a giant helium balloon later this month in North Battleford, he hopes to smash through the sound barrier with a record-breaking 40,000-metre (130,000-foot) freefall jump.

Michel hopes to set four new world records at once: for highest freefall parachute speed, at 1,500 kilometers (2,400 miles) per hour, 1.3 times the speed of sound, along with fastest and highest jump and highest manned balloon flight. Using a narrow weather window starting May 25, Michel will ascend in a pressurized capsule, harnessed to a 161-metre helium balloon, rising to the edge of space. When he opens the door to his capsule, Michel will take a moment to contemplate the immensity of space above, and earth below. Then, a new chapter in the annals of aeronautics will be written.

This return to Saskatchewan is a long-awaited moment for Harel and everyone who has been involved with the project here in Saskatchewan. ďMichel brought with him a new balloon of a type which has been previously used in these kinds of conditions, except that it has never carried a human payload before,Ē notes Claude-Jean Harel, who is also the volunteer Canadian Manager of the Le Grand Saut.


 Big Jump
 Le Grand Saut
 Michel Fournier
 Super Jump
 Claude-Jean Harel

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