Who is Felix Baumgartner, The Daredevil That Completed The Red Bull Stratos Jump?

By Amir Khan on October 15, 2012 10:13 AM EDT

Felix Baumgartner
Felix Baumgartner stunned the world on Sunday when he set a world record by completing his Red Bull Stratos Jump. (Photo: Creative Commons)

Felix Baumgartner stunned the world on Sunday when he set a world record by completing his Red Bull Stratos Jump. Baumgartner skydived from near space, 128,000 feet (39 kilometers) into the stratosphere, reaching speeds of 834 miles per hour and breaking the sound barrier with only his body. But just who is this daredevil, and what made him want to attempt something so dangerous?

Felix Baumgartner was born in 1969 in Austria and began setting world records at the age of 30. He began skydiving at the age of 16, and further honed his skills when he joined the Austrian military's demonstration and competition team.

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In 1988, Baumgartner partnered with Red Bull, the company that would ultimately help him achieve his world-record-setting Red Bull Stratos Jump. In 1999, he set the world record for the highest parachute jump when he leaped off of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, which are 1,483 feet (452 meters) tall.

Baumgartner's second world record came in 2003, when he became the first person to skydive over the English Channel using a wing made of carbon fiber. He also set the record for the lowest BASE jump ever, jumping off of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Brazil.

Baumgartner began working on his Red Bull Stratos Jump in 2010. He initially suffered from claustrophobia from spending time in his pressurized suit, but overcame that fear with the help of a sports psychologist.

The Red Bull Stratos Jump was initially scheduled for October 9, 2012, but was aborted due to bad weather. It was rescheduled for October 14, and as Baumgartner approached the platform, he jumped, saying "I know the whole world is watching now, and I wish the world could see what I see. And sometimes you have to go up really high to see how small you really are. I'm going home now."

After the jump, Baumgartner said it was humbling being up so high.

"Let me tell you - when I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble," he said at a press conference after his jump. "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 also said he doesn't foresee any more record-breaking jumps in his future.

"I'm retired from the daredevil business," he said. I want to find a nice decent job as a helicopter pilot. I'll fight fires and rescue people. No e-mails, no phone calls."

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