Felix Baumgartner lands after attempting supersonic skydive over New Mexico
Last Updated: 423 days ago
ROSWELL, N.M. - Extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner survived a jump from 24 miles above the Earth. He landed at 12:16 p.m. MST.
He took off in a pressurized capsule carried by a 55-story ultra-thin helium balloon. He jumped from more than three times the height of the average cruising altitude for jetliners.
Baumgartner saluted to the camera before pushing away from his capsule and beginning a free fall that, unofficially, lasted 4:19.
"I wish you could see what I could see," he said before jumping.
At a news conference, Brian Utley of the International Federation of Sports Aviation, says Baumgartner reached a maximum speed of 833.9 mph during his jump Sunday over the New Mexico desert.
That amounts to Mach 1.24, which is faster than the speed of sound. No one has ever reached that speed wearing only a high-tech suit.
After hitting that top speed, Baumgartner began to tumble and decelerate.
"For some reason that spin became so violent over all axes that it became hard to know how to come out of that spin," he said.
Because of his pressure suit, Baumgartner likened his attempts to maintain control to swimming without ever touching the water.
"I was fighting all the way down to maintain control because I wanted to break the speed of sound," he said.
He did achieve that goal.
His parachute was activated about 5,000 above the ground in southeastern New Mexico.
In addition to breaking the record for highest free fall, Baumgartner set records for fastest jump in a free fall and the highest manned balloon flight.
He lifted his arms in victory shortly after landing and was quickly surrounded by exuberant members of his team.
Copyright 2012 Scripps Media, Inc. The Associated Press contributed to this report. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.