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Fearless Felix aims to go supersonic

Skydiver to jump from 37km above Earth to break the sound barrier with only his body

Image Credit: EPA
‘Fearless Felix’ Baumgartner
Gulf News

New York "Fearless Felix" Baumgartner has jumped 2,500 times from planes and helicopters, as well as some of the highest landmarks and skyscrapers on the planet — the Christ the Redeemer statue overlooking Rio de Janeiro, the Millau Viaduct in southern France, the 101-storey Taipei 101 in Taiwan.

He's also leapt face-first into a pitch-dark, 189 metre-deep cave in Croatia — his most dangerous feat yet, he says, but soon to be outdone.

This summer, Baumgartner hopes to hurtle toward Earth at supersonic speed from a record 37 kilometres up, breaking the sound barrier with only his body.

He made it more than halfway there during a critical dress rehearsal on Thursday, ascending from the New Mexico desert in a helium balloon and jumping from more than 21km up.

The record so far is Air Force test pilot Joe Kittinger's jump from 102,800 feet — 31.3km in 1960.

"I like to challenge myself," Baumgartner, 42, explained in a recent interview, "and this is the ultimate skydive. I think there's nothing bigger than that."