Felix Baumgartner stepped out of the space capsule an astonishing 128,100 feet, or 24.26 miles above earth, about three times the cruising altitude of jetliners. The skydiver plummeted for 4:20 seconds, but it seemed an eternity, because his faceplate was fogging up on the way down as he fell through harsh atmospheric conditions at a dizzying speed.
Baumgartner was also thrown into a dangerous tumble shortly after exiting. “It felt like a flat spin,” said Baumgartner. “I had a lot of pressure in my head, but I felt I could regain control so we could go after the sound barrier.”
According to Brian Utley, who’s responsible for FIA certification, roughly one minute into his jump Baumgartner reached a top speed of 833.9 mph, a new record for a skydiver. That also means he successfully broke the sound barrier, reaching Mach 1.24.
He also broke the record for the highest manned balloon flight, unofficially reaching a height just shy of 25 miles. He did so in a balloon that’s also the largest ever manned.
Baumgartner’s long-anticipated leap from the edge of space was the Austrian daredevil’s attempt at breaking all those records, most notably the highest successful jump and becoming the only skydiver to break the sound barrier.
Baumgartner is the first skydiver to ever break through the sound barrier, and remarkably, it comes 65 years to the day after Chuck Yeager, flying in his X-1A, first broke through the harrowing milestone.
As Baumgartner opened the hatch of his capsule and stepped out onto the platform, he said before jumping, “I wish the whole world could see what I see.”
After landing, he said the only thing he was thinking about once on the platform was getting back to earth alive. “At that height you become so humble, you don’t think about breaking records anymore. You just want to come back.”