Associated Press/The United Nations, Rick Bajornas - photo provided by the United Nations

Months after the historic BASE jump from a balloon 24.2 miles (39 kilometers) above the Earth, breaking the sound barrier and setting a world record, Felix Baumgartner is still taking life at the speed of sound. This death-defying Austrian athlete is preparing for a new phase of life. Since childhood, Baumgartner has dreamt of being a helicopter pilot. The dream is now a reality. “You need challenges, a reason to get up in the morning, and I will be flying mountain rescues,” he commented. “It will be interesting and I will still be in the air. Now I will have the time to take that aspect of my career to the next level. I’m really looking forward to it.”

Felix began skydiving at the age of 16 and polished his skills as part of the Austrian military’s demonstration and competition team. In 1988, he began performing skydiving exhibitions for Red Bull. A few years later, Felix felt that he’d gone as far as he could with traditional skydiving, so he extended his canopy skills with BASE jumping – parachuting from a fixed object or landform. He finds that the lightning-fast reflexes and precise techniques required by such low-altitude feats also enhance his high-altitude skydiving technique. Felix has made numerous world-record BASE jumps and has been nominated for a World Sports Award and two categories in the NEA Extreme Sports Awards.

Baumgartner is also preparing to take on a very visible role in world affairs as United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has invited him to become a youth ambassador for the organization. “In the next weeks I will process what has happened and work with the United Nations to find out how I can play a role,” Baumgartner said. “I would love to have kids of my own someday, but in the meantime it would be wonderful to work with children around the world.”

In meeting with Ban Ki-Moon, Baumgartner extended an invitation to the UN Secretary-General to take him sky diving. While Ban looked less-than-enthusiastic about the skydiving lesson, he did call Baumgartner “the most courageous person in the world.”

Note: The Red Bull Stratos Freefall was a five year mission which has resulted in a wealth of technical information and the development of advanced technologies with a range of applications. Global plans to offer a series of articles in future newsletters about the technologies, equipment, and medical data from the flight that is now making its way into future space and commercial endeavors.

 

 

 

 

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