Baumgartner is no newbie to freefall, he started skydiving at the age of 16 and has always pursued his passion of aviation building a career by pushing the boundaries of human flight. He is well known for skydiving across the English Channel. The jump from the RedBull Stratos however has dwarfed his previous achievements.
43 year old Baumgartner ascended to a height of 128,051 ft in the stratosphere, before stepping off into the skies above New Mexico and free-falling back to Earth on October 14, 2012. Felix reached an estimated speed of 1,342 kilometres per hour (834 mph), or Mach 1.24.
Whilst Baumgartner certainly smashed the highest freefall record, he was in actual freefall for 4 minutes, 19 seconds, this is actually 17 seconds shy of his mentor Joe Kittinger’s 4 minutes, 36 second record from 1960. Previous highest freefall record holder Kittinger jumped to earth from a height of 102,800 feet from a high altitude balloon, he has a permanent spot in the National Aviation Hall of Fame. Kittinger, being a National Aeronautics Association Elder Statesman of Aviation holds a great amount knowledge in this field and therefore was asked to join the RedBull Stratos team to provide his knowledge to ensure the success of the jump that would break his record.
Missing out on longest freefall most likely wont upset Felix too much as completing this colossal feat has earned Felix 3 other world records;
- after 2hrs 2mins of ascent he broke the record for highest manned balloon flight,
- first human to break the sound barrier during freefall
- highest freefall
These can be added to his growing list of records, including;
- highest parachute jump from a building (Petronas Towers in Kaula Lumpur, 1999),
- world lowest base jump (30m-high arm of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro, 1999),
- first person to skydive the English Channel (2003),
- highest parachute jump from a building (Taipei 101, 2007).