Jumping From The Heavens: Felix Baumgartner & Red Bull
Perhaps you have heard about some guy trying to break a record for the highest skydive or something. Maybe a friend told you that some guy is going to jump from an unheard of height. Then someone might have mentioned some nut doing a Red Bull stunt again. Well, all of these things it correct. Very soon Felix Baumgartner will try an attempt to jump from a weather ballon that is teetering in the upper stratosphere at about 120,000 feet or almost 23 miles! If he succeeds he will be the only man to achieve this remarkable feat from this altitude, the next closest just would be the previous world record of 19 miles high set by Joseph Kittinger. Along with setting the highest jump Felix will also hold the world records for longest, fastest jump and be the only man to break the sound barrier.
Who is Felix Baumgartner?
Who is this remarkable perhaps crazy loon that is going to attempt this heroic or insane act? Well, his name is Felix Baumgartner. Felix was born on April 20,1969 in Austria where he grew up a thrill seeker. When he reached the age, he joined the armed forces and became a parachute jumper. He became a base jumper and added amazing stunts and breaking records to his impressive resume. In 1999 he set a record for the highest jump from a building when he leaped from the Petronas Towers in Kaulu Lumpur in Malaysia. When that didn't satisfy him, he became the first person to skydive the English Channel. How did he do it? He designed and built a special wing. Yep, innovator, nut, regardless the guy has, well, peanuts that could fill a dump truck. If you still aren't convinced I will tell you that Felix also set a record for the lowest BASE jump ever! Jumping just 95 feet off of the hand of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. For Felix this still was not enough so he combined his passions and became the first person to jump onto then BASE jump from the Turning Torso building in Malmo. Yet, as you can see Felix is not satisfied. If and when he breaks this current record, I do not know what he could do next. He may just have to start Scuba diving.
Sending a man into the heavens has been mankind's dream since the beginning of time, but wanting seeing a man fall from the heavens is a recent development in history. When man first learned to soar like a bird they quickly learned than without their artificial wings they needed something to stop them from falling like a rock. Thus, the parachute was born. In the beginning few pilots wore them and some even felt they were only for weak men not worthy of being called a pilot. Over time though as planes flew higher and faster the parachute caught on, and it wash't long before people were seeing from what heights they could jump from and live to tell the tale. In 1959 project Excelsior commenced and Joe Kittinger was chosen to perform jumps form unheard of altitudes to test new hardware, machines, and human endurance. Kittinger record setting jump happened on August 16, 1960 when he jumped from an altitude of 102,800 feet or about 19 miles up. This record has stood for over fifty years! I guess most people thought that going any higher was not possible until Felix cam along and teamed up with Red Bull and a crack team of pros that are hoping to break the record and as in 1960 test new technology, hardware, and the human body and spirit.