Felix Baumgartner (born 20 April 1969) is an Austrian skydiver,daredevil and BASE jumper. He set world records for skydiving an estimated 39 km (24 mi), reaching an estimated speed of 1,357.64 km/h (843.6 mph), or Mach 1.25, on 14 October 2012, and became the first person to break the sound barrier without vehicular power on his descent. He broke skydiving records for exit altitude, vertical freefall distance without drogue, and vertical speed without drogue. Though he still holds the latter records, the first was broken two years later, when on 24 October 2014, Alan Eustace jumped from 135,890 feet – or, 41.42 km (25.74 mi) with a drogue.
Baumgartner is also renowned for the particularly dangerous nature of the stunts he has performed during his career. Baumgartner spent time in the Austrian military where he practiced parachute jumping, including training to land on small target zones.
Baumgartner’s most recent project was Red Bull Stratos, in which he jumped to Earth from a helium balloon in the stratosphere on 14 October 2012. As part of this project, he set the altitude record for a manned balloon flight, parachute jump from the highest altitude, and greatest free fall velocity.
Felix Baumgartner was born on 20 April 1969, in Salzburg, Austria. As a child, he dreamed about flying and skydiving. In 1999 he claimed the world record for the highest parachute jump from a building when he jumped from the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. On 20 July 2003, Baumgartner became the first person to skydive across the English Channel using a specially made carbon fiber wing. Alban Geissler, who developed the SKYRAY carbon fiber wing with Christoph Aarns, suggested after Baumgartner’s jump that the wing he used was a copy of two prototype SKYRAY wings sold to Red Bull (Baumgartner’s sponsor) two years earlier.
Baumgartner also set the world record for the lowest BASE jump ever, when he jumped 29 metres (95 ft) from the hand of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. This jump also stirred controversy among BASE jumpers who pointed out that Baumgartner cited the height of the statue as the height of the jump even though he landed on a slope below the statue’s feet, and that other BASE jumpers had previously jumped from the statue but avoided publicity.
He became the first person to BASE jump from the completed Millau Viaduct in France on 27 June 2004 and the first person to skydive onto, then BASE jump from, the Turning Torso building in Malmö, Sweden, on 18 August 2006. On 12 December 2007 he became the first person to jump from the 91st floor observation deck of the then-tallest completed building in the world, Taipei 101 in Taipei, Taiwan.
Red Bull Stratos
In January 2010, it was reported that Baumgartner was working with a team of scientists and sponsor Red Bull to attempt the highest sky-dive on record.
On 15 March 2012, Baumgartner completed the first of 2 test jumps from 21,818 metres (71,581 ft). During the jump, he spent approximately three minutes and 43 seconds in free fall, reaching speeds of more than 580 km/h (360 mph), before opening his parachute. In total, the jump lasted approximately eight minutes and eight seconds and Baumgartner became the third person to safely parachute from a height of over 21.7 km (13.5 mi).
On 25 July 2012, Baumgartner completed the second of two planned test jumps from 29,460 metres (96,640 ft). It took Baumgartner about 90 minutes to reach the target altitude and his free fall was estimated to have lasted three minutes and 48 seconds before his parachutes were deployed.
The launch was originally scheduled for 9 October 2012 but was aborted due to adverse weather conditions. Launch was rescheduled and the mission instead took place on 14 October 2012 when Baumgartner landed in eastern New Mexico after jumping from-a then world record (later it was broken by Alan Eustace in 2014), 38,969.3 metres (127,852 feet) and falling a record distance of 36,402.6 metres. On the basis of updated data, Baumgartner also set the record for the highest manned balloon flight (at the same height) and fastest speed of free fall at 1,357.64 km/h (843.6 mph), making him the first human to break the sound barrier outside a vehicle. Baumgartner was in free fall for 4 minutes and 19 seconds, 17 seconds short of mentor Joseph Kittinger‘s 1960 jump.
Training for the jump
In 2014, Baumgartner decided to join Audi Motorsport to drive an Audi R8 LMS for the 2014 24 Hours of Nurburgring after racing Volkswagen Polos in 2013. He underwent another intense physical and driver training session to prepare him for the race. He helped the team to a 9th place overall finish.Personal life
In October 2012, when Baumgartner was asked in an interview with the Austrian newspaper Kleine Zeitung whether a political career was an option for his future life, he stated that the “example of Arnold Schwarzenegger” showed, that “you can’t move anything in a democracy” and that he would opt for a “moderate dictatorship […] led by experienced personalities coming from the private (sector of the) economy”. He finally stated he “didn’t want to get involved in politics.”
On 6 November 2012 Baumgartner was convicted of battery and was fined €1500 after punching a Greek truck driver in the face.
Baumgartner dated Playboy German playmate of the century Gitta Saxx. Later he was engaged to Nicole Öttl, a model and former beauty queen (MissLower Austria 2006). They broke up in 2013.
His mother is named Eva, and he has one brother, Gerard Baumgartner.
Awards and accolades
- In 2012 he won the Bambi award in the category of “Millennium”.
- In December 2012, Felix was named one of “The Men of the Year 2012” by Top Gear (magazine).
- He was named Laureus World Action Sportsperson of the Year (12 March 2013).
- He received the Mankind Award at The 2013 Spike Guys’ Choice Awards.
- Flying (magazine) ranked him number 46 on their 2013 list of the “51 Heroes of Aviation”; he was the youngest-ranked living person on the list.