Felix Baumgartner – Red Bull Stratos Pilot

By Mark Barber | 20.10.2012

Felix Baumgartner

Red Bull Stratos Pilot

Felix Baumgartner has a passion for expanding boundaries,  especially in the air. The record-setting Austrian skydiver and BASE  jumper is best known for completing an unprecedented freefall flight  across the English Channel using a carbon wing. Now, with a team of  leading scientists, doctors and engineers, he’s working to advance  aeronautical research by becoming the first person ever to break the  speed of sound in freefall.

Born on April 20, 1969, Felix was raised in Salzburg, where he  dreamed of skydiving and flying helicopters and was inspired by  astronauts on TV. He made his first skydive at age 16. After sharpening  his parachute skills as a member of a Special Forces demonstration team  for the Austrian military, he supported himself by repairing motorcycles  before becoming a skydiving professional.

In the 1990s, Felix extended the range of his canopy skills with BASE  jumping. In 1997 he won the overall BASE jumping championship at West  Virginia’s Bridge Day, which draws competitors from around the world.  His 1999 jump from the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur established a new  world record for highest BASE jump from a building; and that same year  he completed the lowest BASE jump in history from Christ the Redeemer  statue in Rio de Janeiro. A sampling of Felix’s additional records  includes jumping from the Millau Bridge in France (record for highest  span) and Taiwan’s Taipei 101 tower (new highest jump from a building).  He even BASE-jumped into a Croatian cave equivalent to a 60-story  building in depth.

Felix’s most renowned achievement to date has been his freefall  “flight” across the English Channel – non-motorized and without a  vehicle. Requiring development of a special carbon wing, the project was  three years in the making. When, on July 31, 2003, Felix jumped from an  aircraft at more than 32,000 feet over Dover, England, his only  protection from the extremes of the environment (a temperature of -40°  F.) was a custom-built jumpsuit and helmet. Strapped to his back were  the carbon wing, an oxygen tank and his parachute. The Austrian reached a  speed of 220 miles per hour, and he completed the 22-mile freefall to  Calais, France, in six minutes.

Named to Vienna’s Street of Champions and nominated for a World  Sports Award and two categories in the NEA Extreme Sports Awards, Felix  is also an advocate for the nonprofit Wings for Life Spinal Cord  Research Foundation. He has earned his gas balloon license, and as the  holder of private helicopter licenses for the United States and Austria  as well as his commercial European license, he is living many of his  childhood dreams. If the Red Bull Stratos quest to break the speed of  sound is successful, he may even surpass those youthful imaginings.

In undertaking the training required for the mission, Felix divides his  time between the United States and Switzerland; but, he acknowledges,  “The air is where I am at home.”

Product Title: Felix Baumgartner
Media Type: Article
Product Number: P-20121018-00054
Published: 19.Oct 2012

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