Time has flown since last year, when the world anxiously watched Felix Baumgartner make space history. The 44 year old Austrian reached new heights in the record books with his free-fall from 24 miles above the earth. It took a lifetime of planning, dreaming and fearless achievement to accomplish the feat. As we mark the anniversary of Baumgartner’s supersized stunt, the new movie Gravity helps us to further imagine the feeling he had in real time and space. Felix Baumgartner jumped from a space capsule 127,000 feet in altitude and fell for close to ten minutes. He had a bird’s eye view of the planet as he fell straight downward for approximately four minutes, before releasing his parachute for the rest of the ride.
The thoughts of those quick yet long minutes will be ingrained in his memory forever. It was not to show off, it was simply to satisfy his skill of knowing he could do it. His dare devil spirit came out full force as he became one with the universe and soared.
Felix Baumgartner has always been fixated on flying and the world of outer space. He even has the words Born To Fly tattooed on his forearm. His first sky diving experience came at age 16, and he went on to become a pilot and expert parachutist. His quest to push to the limit became a reality on October 14, 2012. That date was also the anniversary of Chuck Yeager’s record of breaking the sound barrier, 65 years prior.
Felix took everything into consideration while planning his jump. He did not act spontaneously like Icarus, the boy who flew too close to the sun in Greek Mythology, but instead had a full team of supporters. He took the challenge as he grabbed the bull by the horns and proved his endurance and skill. The bull was namely Red Bull, his number one sponsor. Baumgartner also had several medical teams stationed as various points to assist if anything went wrong. All the red tape to get cleared, the cost of equipment, the pressurized suit and helmet, plus the people power behind him, cost close to $65 million.
The cost is being absorbed by his sponsor, as life moves on. The celebrity status of Baumgartner is still yet to be seen. It will take a lot of book sales and events to come close to the amount spent, but the thrill of flying through space will always be a priceless moment in time for Felix, and for those who witnessed the spectacular event.
After training, preparation and previous aborted missions, the free-fall from space will remain as an outstanding victory in technology and science. The ability and availability of all that was required to complete one man’s mission is simply amazing. It almost seems as if Felix Baumgartner is a reincarnated prehistoric bird, such as the pelagornis. He was born to fly, to go the extra mile and to span the wings of time in the universe. Felix Baumgartner returned safely to earth and landed in New Mexico to the tears and cheers of the crowd. His ongoing high of his accomplishment is brought down to earth by being an advocate for the Wings of Life Spinal Cord Research Foundation. His dreams have been met as his inspiration continues.
Written by: Roanne H. FitzGibbon