Felix Baumgartner: That First Step is a Bitch

In 1947, Sixty-five years and a few days ago, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier
in the cockpit of a Bell X-1 experimental plane. He was the first human to do so
and at the time it was a very big deal, he was the pride of the US Air Force and
he solidified his spot in aviation history along side the Wright Brothers and “The
Rocketeer”.

Felix Baumgartner and the good people at Red Bull just made Chuck Yeager look like
a complete amateur. If you didn’t watch it, go and watch it. It’s like watching Charles
Lindbergh, or the moon landing, or that guy walking across Niagara Falls if it were
200 years ago. It might have been a little weird to see a company logo in place of
where a flag might have been, but my way of approaching corporate dominance is
evolved enough to let it slide. Felix floated up in a balloon about three times higher
than your last flight to Vegas, the kind of high up where you need a spacesuit to live,
and just jumped. On the way down he broke the sound barrier wearing nothing
better than a fishbowl and a grin.

Damned impressive.

Yet no sooner had he touched down, then I read a huge, bitter swell of dipshit critics
jumping up and down about how any bozo with a balloon and a deathwish could
have done what he did.

Not so baby.

Before Baumgartner decided to break the baddest of the badass records for a living,
he was a military man in his native Austria, doing Special Forces shit like piloting
helicopters and jumping from them. When his Base-jumping jones needed fixing, he
did it from all kinds of crazy places setting all kinds of crazy records, but the space
thing was a horse of a different colour. It wasn’t just up and down, there was a crazy
amount of training.

If you want to be any kind of base jumper at all, you already need to be in near-
Olympic shape. 90 minutes a day at the gym is the rule, with a focus on lean muscle
and the sort of cardio that makes ironmen blush.

Then there’s the High Altitude specific training. Felix spent a week running
simulations invented for Astronauts in an environmental chamber that went to –
50 degrees and fiddles with air pressures that can make the blood in your veins
actually explode if you’re not protected properly. This jump took intense focus and
an inhuman amount of preparation.

Forget the physical demands of the jump, the psychological pair of testicles you
have to have to a:) take a balloon into space, and B:) leap from said balloon are

incomparable. Add that to the fact that Baumgartner was actually bugging out from
claustrophobia because of his spacesuit and you’ve got a man that overcame mind
and matter the way most of us will never be asked to.

He might not have changed the world with his jump, but Felix did something that
won’t soon be forgotten, he topped off an amazing career built on doing something
he loved, and he inspired the entire world minus a few hundred pussies with
internet connections and inferiority complexes. He is a Swagger man of the first
order, and we salute him.

Let’s follow his lead all of us, and do something incredible with what time we’re
given on this planet.

 

Written by:  Jeremy P Beal

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