BOSTON (CBS) – It’s a one-of-a-kind paraglide mission.
One-hundred daredevils from all around the globe are set to jump off the world’s tallest free-standing mountain. But, the trip might not have been possible without the help of UMass researchers.
The group is called “Wings of Kilimanjaro”and right now they are hiking to the top of Africa’s tallest peak. Instead of climbing back down they will fly off the 19,000 foot tall summit on paragliders.
This is typically banned but the team got a green light because this adventure is also expected to raise $1 million for African charities.
The mission has been years in the making and when the Australian organizer needed to figure out the best time to fly he reached out to UMass Amherst.
More specifically, they reached out to UMass climate scientist Douglas Hardy. He’s been tracking the extreme weather on Mt. Kilimanjaro for more than ten years using two weather stations UMass placed on the mountain.
“At the summit of Kilimanjaro you can experience just about any kind of weather, just about any time of the year,” says Hardy.
Hardy’s work involves drilling ice cores to understand climate change through the centuries. He never expected his work to also be used in what he calls a James-Bond style stunt.
“Wings of Kilimanjaro” are on track to make the historic jump on Tuesday.
The 100 pilots are accompanied by about 900 support staff.