“The exit was perfect but then I started spinning slowly. I thought I’d just spin a few times and that would be that, but then I started to speed up. It was really brutal at times. I thought for a few seconds that I’d lose consciousness. I didn’t feel a sonic boom because I was so busy just trying to stabilize myself. We’ll have to wait and see if we really broke the sound barrier. It was really a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.” – Felix Baumgartner, October 14, 2012
He made it look like it was easy. You could see the spinning on the long range infrared cameras, and it was worrysome, but it didn’t look bad enough to appear that he was in real trouble. And then he recovered. He broke a several records, including highest manned balloon flight, highest jump, and fastest speed without benefit of a vehicle. But I was happy Joe Kittinger‘s record on longest free fall still stands. The dude deserves to hold at least one record. I suspect Baumgartner shot into the atmosphere like a bullet, and just covered the extra distance that much faster.
UPDATE: From Tam, who also watched the live event on Al Gore’s Internets:
I just used a global communication network to watch video footage and telemetry streamed in real time from the edge of space, where a man privately sponsored by an energy drink company leaped into the black sky and went supersonic without an aircraft.
What a fascinating modern world we live in!
Yep. The next time man lands on the moon, it’ll have a sponsor. Who’ll sponsor the Mars Shot? Probably whichever company corners the moon tourism market.
UPDATE: Another thought. I don’t think the many Americans that tuned in to the live jump thought too much about the fact that an Austrian was gunning for, and eventually beat several world records held by an American. This is still a country where we celebrate individual achievement — one that doesn’t care much whether you’re Austrian, English, Turkish, Armenian, Russian, Chinese, Kenyan or Indonesian. Joe Kittinger helped the Austrian beat all but one of his own records — people who were 70 years ago a mortal enemy. No one thought anything of it. Think about that when you consider the bullshit being flung far and wide over the Sekaku Islands.