The MSN Traveler

A portrait of Felix Baumgartner

Vanity Fair profiles the record-breaking BASE jumper in May's issue

By Chelsea Lin Apr 11, 2013 12:26PM

When we think of travel, we generally think in terms of distance, not height. Even the mountaineers and pilots among us don’t think like Felix Baumgartner, who last year broke the altitude record for human free fall—jumping from 99,000 feet higher than Mount Everest—at supersonic speed and this month is featured in a lengthy Vanity Fair article eloquently titled “The Man Who Pierced the Sky.”  


An Austrian Red Bull showman, Baumgartner is the very picture of macho daredevil: “He is photogenic. He is fit. His fiancée was Miss Lower Austria in 2006. When he furrows his brow he looks determined and intense. On-camera he becomes the very image of a middle-aged action figure, the perfect emblem for an important market segment of middle-aged men,” writes Vanity Fair contributor William Langewiesche.


Though a record eight million people tuned into YouTube to watch with bated breath last October as Baumgartner’s balloon floated up, up, up to 128,000 feet, few understand the planning and logistics involved in such a remarkable journey. The article walks through the 43-step checklist prior to his jump. It talks about all the horrific ways things could have gone wrong; about the outrageous cost of such an endeavor. But perhaps most interesting are the details given about the jumper, Baumgartner himself, a boy who took up skydiving at age 16 and whose thrill-seeking nature led him to BASE jumping and a career made doing the death-defying sport on camera. He traveled the world, developed a claustrophobic aversion to the pressure suits that would eventually help him reach fame, and then leapt from a height higher than anyone before him—not quite space, as advertised, but damn near close.

Climbing the Eiffel Tower or visiting Lady Liberty’s crown will never be quite as terrifying again. It’s all in the perspective, right?  

Image courtesy of deoman56

Apr 11, 2013 10:18PM
Seriously one of the most awe- inspiring events I have observed. It is things like this that makes most of the craziness in the world worth witnessing for me.
Apr 11, 2013 9:23PM
Keep drinking red bull and those other energy drinks people and when you have kids, you will wonder why they have birth defects. That is if your heart doesn't explode first.
Apr 11, 2013 7:44PM
Eight million people watched "with baited breath".  There's something fishy about that.
Apr 11, 2013 7:23PM
Dude.  He's Xtreme.  Skydiving from outer space.  Radical
Apr 11, 2013 7:13PM
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Which of these extreme outdoor sports would you be brave enough to try?

Which of these extreme outdoor sports would you be brave enough to try?

    47 %
    BASE jumping
    26,891 votes
    24 %
    Ice climbing
    13,453 votes
    29 %
    16,881 votes

Total Responses: 57,225
Not scientifically valid. Results are updated every minute.


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