By Mike Ullery
DAYTON — In October 2012, Austrian daredevil, Felix Baumgartner, stood on the step of the Red Bull Stratos capsule, suspended beneath a helium-filled balloon that was larger than a football field. Baumgartner made a final salute before stepping off the platform and falling toward Earth — some 128,000 feet below.
During his descent, he became the first human to exceed the speed of sound without an aircraft, reaching a speed of 833.9 miles per hour as he plummeted toward the Earth. It was fitting that the event took place on Oct. 14, 65 years to the day from the time that legendary aviator Chuck Yeager became the first man to break the sound barrier in an airplane, the Bell X-1.
Baumgartner’s trip back to Earth took 9:09 minutes, including 4:22 minutes of free-fall.
More than 9 million viewers watched as Baumgartner accomplished the feat, breaking the previous record, held by Col. Joe Kittinger, (retired), who jumped from more than 102,000 feet, in 1960.
On Thursday, a reception was held at the National Museum of the United States Air Force as they welcomed a display, sponsored by Red Bull.
On hand for the reception were Col. Kittinger (retired), who served as Red Bull Stratos Program consultant and Cap-Com for the mission; Art Thompson, Red Bull Technical Project Director; and Johathan Clark, M.D., Red Bull Stratos Medical Director.
The trio told assembled guests about the project, detailed the many challenges that had to be overcome, and offered personal insight to how they succeeded in a mission that many thought impossible.
Kittinger told guests that one of the many accomplishments of the mission was, “it proved what we demonstrated in 1960, that you had to have a stabilization device, (in order to survive a high-altitude bail-out).”
Baumgartner and the Red Bull Stratos team spent five years planning, training and preparing for the mission that was designed to improve scientific understanding of how the body copes with extreme conditions.
The gondola and pressure suit worn by Baumgartner during the historic jump, along with an interactive display, will be on display at the museum through March 16, when it will depart for its permanent home at the Smithsonian Air & Space Museum in Washington, D.C.
“We are so pleased to have this here,” said director of the National Museum of the United States Air Force, Lt. Gen. Jack Hudson, (retired), as he welcomed guests and Red Bull Representatives.
The exhibit is located in the Modern Flight Gallery.