Audacious. Epic. Heroic
Supersonic speed is the speed of an object that exceeds the speed of sound. At 20 degree Celsius (68 degrees F), the speed of sound in air is about 343 meters per second, 2.9 seconds per km or 4.7 seconds a mile.
So, when it was known that Felix Baumgartner would be attempting to attain supersonic speed while skydiving from the Stratosphere, it wasn’t a shocker.
Stratosphere is the second major layer of Earth’s atmosphere, just above the Troposphere. It is the altitude limit of jets and weather balloons, as air is roughly a thousand times thinner there than at the Troposphere.
Felix Baumgartner had made a name for himself with acts of daring in the past. Baumgartner, already had the records for the highest altitude manned balloon flight and the highest altitude skydive.
Fearless Felix paused slightly before taking a step away from the capsule which had taken him to an ascent of 24 miles above the Earth’s surface. It was a small step away from the capsule but a towering one towards inspiring others to go beyond the ordinary; challenge the fixed notions and do the unthinkable.
Ten hair-raising minutes later the Austrian landed back on Earth. Those ten minutes were the most agonising for his near and dear ones.
Freefall of 4 minutes recorded by three cameras attached to Baumgartner’s suit recorded the freefall which came close to breaking the existing freefall record. A special designed suit kept his body intact against the markedly varying pressures that marked his drop back to earth. These suits are meticulously made and are life-saving as without them, skydivers’ blood would boil and their lungs could explode too.
During the 4-minute freefall, Felix reached speeds of up to 725 miles per hour and broke three world records, including the world’s first supersonic skydiver by breaking the sound barrier.
That sounds so freaking cool!
As per research done by a neuromuscular disease expert, for skydiving competitors and 1st time leisure skydivers, rapid acceleration only lasts for 3-4 seconds from the moment one jumps off the airplane. After a few seconds, one reaches a steady speed of 110-120 miles per hour for about 30 to 50 seconds before the parachutes are deployed.
Free fall of 4 minutes vs a free fall of 30-50 seconds. Just gives a clear perspective to this superhuman effort of Felix Baumgartner. More importantly, it also provides massive inspiration to the human race in capturing the insurmountable and that victory is always sweeter when it’s outside the comfort zone.
After the landing, Baumgartner later told a press conference: “When I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble, you don’t think about breaking records.” He admitted all he could think about was getting back alive, but added: “Sometimes you have to go up really high to see how small you are.”
Baumgartner started suffering panic attacks during his 5-month training before the fall. He also battled with an unexpected fear: Claustrophobia.
As has been said umpteen times – “I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.”