Austrian skydiver 'Fearless Felix' breaks sound barrier

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Felix Baumgartner
Roswell/New Mexico, Oct 15: Believe it or not Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner can go faster than the speed of sound. He had achieved the awe-inspiring stunt after he jumped out of a balloon 128,100ft (24 miles; 39km) above New Mexico on Sunday, Oct 14.

Thus, the 43-year-old has become the first skydiver to go faster than the speed of sound, reaching a maximum velocity of 833.9mph (1,342km/h).

Baumgartner, known as "Fearless Felix", took nearly 10 minutes to descend. Only the last few thousand feet were negotiated by parachute.

"Let me tell you - when I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble. You don't think about breaking records anymore, you don't think about gaining scientific data - the only thing that you want is to come back alive," he said afterwards at a media conference.

Once down, he fell to his knees and raised his fists in triumph. Helicopter recovery teams were on hand moments later, said a BBC report.

He said he almost aborted the dive because his helmet visor fogged up.

Coincidentally, Baumgartner's attempted feat also marked the 65th anniversary of US test pilot Chuck Yeager successful attempt to become the first man to officially break the sound barrier aboard an airplane.

At Baumgartner's insistence, some 30 cameras recorded the event on Sunday. Shortly after launch, screens at mission control showed the capsule as it rose above 10,000 feet, high above the New Mexico desert as cheers erupted from organisers. Baumgartner also could be seen on video checking instruments inside the capsule.

Baumgartner's team included Joe Kittinger, who first attempted to break the sound barrier from 31.4 kilometres up in 1960.

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