Felix Baumgartner is about to plunge 120,000 feet over the New Mexican desert in an attempt to break the speed of sound. A number of things could wrong: his blood could boil, he could go into an uncontrolled spin and be knocked unconscious, he could smash into the ground.
Ironically, the one thing that the Austrian extremes-man feared the most was the full body gear that will ultimately protect him from all these terrible outcomes.
Mr. Baumgartner, 43, a former Austrian paratrooper who became known as Fearless Felix by leaping off buildings, landmarks and once into a 600-foot cave, said that this was his toughest challenge, because of the complexity involved and because of an unexpected fear he had to overcome: claustrophobia. During five years of training, he started suffering panic attacks when he had to spend hours locked inside the stiff pressurised suit and helmet necessary for survival at the edge of space
Baumgartner conquered his fear through therapy and guidance from 84-year-old Joseph Kittinger, a former U.S. Air Force pilot who jumped from 19.5 miles in 1960. Until Baumgartner’s successful jump is completed, Kittinger still holds the current world record for highest altitude parachute jump.
It’s fortunate that he’s conquered his fears. Once Baumgartner leaps from his capsule — which is only six feet across — his suit, helmet and gloves are the the only barrier against frigid temperatures and a practically nonexistent atmosphere.
See the terrifying suit below:
Photo: Red Bull Content Pool
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