'We did something that mattered to the world': Baumgartner
Published Tuesday, October 23, 2012 8:41AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, October 23, 2012 10:53AM EDT
One week after he plunged from an altitude of 128,100 feet – catapulting toward the earth, breaking the sound barrier along the way – Felix Baumgartner says it’s still difficult to fully understand the magnitude of his accomplishment.
“We did something that mattered to the world,” Baumgartner told CTV’s Canada AM on Tuesday.
And the world had held its breath as the 43-year-old, seemingly without hesitation, leapt into the stratosphere on Oct. 14.
The Austrian daredevil said years of preparation – including wind-tunnel training, test jumps from 90,000 feet and a full dress rehearsal in a pressurized chamber – left him well prepared for the historic feat.
“There was not a single second to turn around and say ‘I’m not going to do it,’” he said.
“When you stand there on top of the world and you’ve got this incredible view, it’s really overwhelming,” Baumgartner explained. “But at the same time, you realize that everything around you is hostile.”
After disconnecting his oxygen line from the capsule, Baumgartner knew he had 10 minutes of oxygen left and little time to waste.
Reaching speeds of an estimated 1,342.8 kilometres per hour on his descent, Baumgartner became the first man to break the speed of sound in a record-shattering jump that marked both the highest and fastest free fall and the highest manned balloon flight.
Still, the expert parachutist said he wouldn’t describe the experience as a pleasant one.
Pointing to the extreme altitude and the pressure of having the world watching his jump, Baumgartner said: “It’s not easy; there’s no pleasure when you do it.”
But opening the parachute following a four-minute, 20-second free fall was a “big relief.”
“It was good to have solid ground underneath my feet,” Baumgartner said. “It’s almost too much, all the things you have to accomplish. I was the happiest person in the world.”
Baumgartner said he plans on retiring from the daredevil business and will now focus his career on flying helicopters.