This being summer and North Carolina, Rankin wasn't exactly dressed for a blizzard. And when he first jumped out, it was still about 70 degrees, as far as he could tell. But when he got into that cloud, the temperature dropped to almost 70 below, causing insane decompression sickness (read: he turned into a tomato balloon), bleeding out of just about every orifice on his body (including his eyes) and major frostbite. But that wasn't going to stop Rankin. He stayed conscious enough to properly deploy his parachute. And here is where we find out what happens when you open a parachute into a vicious storm of winds swirling around at food processor speeds.
First, massive updrafts kept thrusting him back up into the storm, again and again. And again. A regular skydive from 50,000 feet would only take a couple minutes when it's all said and done. But Rankin was tossed around in this cloud for 40 fucking minutes, pelted by wind and hailstones the whole time, rain spraying in his face like a fire hose (he nearly drowned from it).
We repeat: This man almost drowned ... in the sky.
Finally, after what must have seemed like a solid year of free fall, Rankin was returned to Earth, where he promptly hit a tree with his face (he was wearing a helmet, but still). Battered and broken, he made his way to a road and unsuccessfully hitchhiked for a while before a brave soul took pity on him (he looked pretty rough) and drove him to a town where he could call an ambulance.