10:03 AM EST, January 7, 2013
Did daredevil Kurt Ruppert pay with his life when a breath-taking stunt went horribly wrong?
That's the question swirling as search parties try to locate the human birdman.
The 29-year-old leaped from a helicopter over mountainous terrain in Washington state late last week and hasn't been seen since.
Ruppert was one of an elite group of fearless thrill seekers who skydive while wearing jumpsuits that make them fly like Superman at astonishing speeds.
The life-and-death sport was profiled in a 60 Minutes story called "Birdmen" in 2009. Ruppert didn't appear in the segment, but other top guys did.
60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft asked skydivers, “How fast do you go?”
“120, 140 miles an hour,” replied one.
The winged skydivers spoke to Kroft about the deadly risks they take when they leap into the unknown.
A YouTube video showed what can happen when a birdman miscalculated by just a fraction of an inch. He smashed into rocks and goes tumbling head over heels. Incredibly, he survived.
Now, searchers are praying that the missing skydiver has not paid the ultimate price.