Say ‘Red Bull gives you wings’ and I’ll always think of those odd-balls jumping off a miscellaneous British pier with little more than a pair of cardboard wings stuck on with Pritt Stick. But this time, one chap is taking Red Bull’s maxim a little more seriously.
Austrian nutter Felix Baumgarter is first taking a stratospheric flight to more than 120,000ft in a pressurised capsule attached to little more than a fancy-pants helium balloon. Then he’s jumping off.
Baumgarter aims to be the first person ever to break the sound barrier in free-fall. He’ll be wearing a special space suit and his helmet will be supplied with oxygen, so don't worry too much about him. He’ll be grand.
photograph by Luke Aikins
A test jump from a helicopter in the Californian skies gives Baumgartner a taste of the thrill that awaits. He’s being helped by retired US Air Force Colonel Joe Kittinger, who holds the record for the highest freefall – a record Baumgartner is trying to smash. (Old Joe’s is a paltry 102,800ft, FYI.)
photograph by Christian Pondella
Baumgartner enters the capsule for the chamber test in California. Experts in medicine, science and engineering, including a former NASA crew surgeon, are working to ensure the Austrian survives.
photograph by Garth Milan
In Perries, California, Baumgartner has a taste of the force of air blasting over him as he will fall 120,000ft from the edge of space. Baumgartner’s well used to this sort of tomfoolery; in 2003 he freefell across the English Channel wearing little but a carbon-fibre wing. So, he’s got form.
Cover photograph by Wolfgang Luif. All photographs for Red Bull.
Not a member?
To share your thoughts sign up now. You'll also be entered into the weekly lunchtime lottery.