December 1, 2012
Barbara A. Schmitz
What would you be thinking as you stood on the edge of a pressurized capsule, pulled 24 miles high by a 40-acre helium-filled balloon, ready to jump back to Earth?
Felix Baumgartner said he wasn’t thinking about breaking records or gaining scientific data. “The only thing you want is to come back alive because you do not want to die in front of your parents, your girlfriend and all the people watching this,” he said after his Oct. 14 jump.
Knowing that millions were watching via television and the Internet, Baumgartner later said that he wished people could see what he saw. “Sometimes you have to go up really high to understand how small you really are.”
The Austrian daredevil and BASE jumper later tweeted, “If you want to know what that felt like, just zoom all the way out on Google Earth and click the scroll bar until you reach the ground.”
You’ll get an even better indication of what that felt like, however, in this footage posted by Red Bull. It shows Baumgartner going from jump to supersonic speed in 33 seconds.
Baumgartner reached up to Mach 1.24, or 834 mph, while descending, becoming the first to break the speed of sound in freefall awhile setting the altitude record for a manned balloon flight and parachute jump from the highest altitude. He fell for 4 minutes and 20 seconds before deploying his parachute.
He landed in eastern New Mexico, about 25 miles from where he had originally taken off.
Coincidentally, Baumgartner broke the freefall sound barrier 65 years later to the day that Chuck Yeager became the first to break the sound barrier in a rocket-powered airplane, the Bell X-1.
The Red Bull Stratos jump broke another kind of record. According to YouTube, the live stream attracted the most concurrent views ever—more than 8 million.
As the cold weather chills AOPA’s Headquarters in Frederick, many of us are inside generating new resources for flying clubs.
In my house, every Friday night is “Movie Night.” While the movies are rarely educational (I don’t think I learned anything from the Lego Movie), we look forward to the weekly opportunity to spend time together. Why not use the same concept for your Flying Club (with the addition of education, of course)?
AOPA Flying Club Manager Kelby Ferwerda posted the following on the AOPA Flying Club Facebook Page: “Recently I’ve talked with quite a few Flying Clubs about maintaining social activity through the cold winter months. Some clubs host Holliday Parties, others have Potluck Movie Nights. What does your club do to keep members involved during the chilly months?”
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