Interview with daredevil skydiver Felix Baumgartner

Monday, October 22, 2012
Felix Baumgartner: Faster than the speed of sound 
How do you feel now that you’ve had few days since your jump on 14 October to think about your achievements?

It’s still too much to fully comprehend. Besides the physical exhaustion and mental exhilaration, the huge response from people from around the world has been humbling. I am still taking it all in, and I truly appreciate all the good wishes and congratulations that have come my way. It’s been incredible.

What are your plans for the near future?

While I’ve enjoyed my time in New Mexico and will never forget my experiences – or the people – here, it’s time for me to start working my way home.

How about long term? What are your plans?

Helicopters! You can’t keep me out of the air. I have already been flying as a commercial helicopter pilot in Europe, and now I will have the time to take that aspect of my career to the next level. I’m really looking forward to it.

While you’re moving on to new adventures, people still can’t seem to get enough of Red Bull Stratos. How can they learn more?

A feature-length documentary produced by the BBC and National Geographic is coming out later this fall. It will cover the project from the early stages through to the present – I just finished the last filming with their crew today. I’ll enjoy seeing it and reliving the adventure myself!

How does it feel for a man who has just accomplished the dream of a lifetime?

Baumgartner: "I feel like 20 tonnes of ballast have just dropped off my shoulders, that's how it feels after seven years of preparation and after you've played through this moment in your mind so many times before. It was an incredible up and down today, just like it's been with the whole project. First we got off with a beautiful launch and then we had a bit of drama with the chest pack. We were close to aborting the mission because the heater for my visor wasn't working properly. I thought 'this can't be happening'. It didn't get any better and it was very draining. But we decided to go ahead anyhow. As you can see that was the right decision."

Our hearts all stood still as you started to spin. It looked like about 30 times. Were you counting yourself?

"The exit was actually perfect. I felt like I came away very well. 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."
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