Felix Baumgartner yesterday jumped from a capsule 24 miles above the earth’s surface, and into the history books. The 43-year-old now holds the record for the world’s highest parachute jump, and is the first skydiver to break the sound barrier. But it almost didn’t happen: Thanks to a foggy visor, the Austrian daredevil almost aborted the feat.
Once he’d leapt off the capsule, it took Baumgartner over nine minutes to reach solid ground. There were worries that he’d fluffed it as the skydiver, a veteran of over 2,500 jumps, didn’t get into the correct position. At his fastest he was traveling at 833.9mph, or Mach 1.24, and he was in free fall for 4 minutes and 20 seconds.
The previous record, which has stood since 1960, was for a jump measuring just a shade over 19 and a quarter miles. It was held by Retired U.S. Air Force Colonel Joe Kittinger, whose voice was Baumgartner’s link to mission control during his descent.