After falling 128,100 feet, topping-out at 833.9 miles per hour, and becoming the first human being to break the sound barrier in free fall, daredevil Felix Baumgartner has announced his retirement from jumping off of really high things.
Appearing on Today Monday, the Austrian parachutist and former paratrooper told Savannah Guthrie that he’s done with the daredevil game, and who can blame him? How can you top that space jump stunt? “I am officially retired from the daredevil business,” Baumgartner said. “I did it all. I had enough. It’s time to move on.”
Breaking YouTube live-streaming records with millions of people watching, Baumgartner’s space jump represented a peak and a valley in his career as a record-shattering stunt that nearly cost him his life when he went into a violent death-spin early on.
“It’s kind of interesting because it represents exactly what I thought was going to happen because I’ve been told that I’m going to spin and that there’s no way to not spin,” he said.
But the biggest challenge in such a stunt is actually staying conscious, which, during a 4 minute and 20 second free fall, amounts to a chore.
“When you spin so violent, what we call the rapid onset, all your blood goes into your brain and there’s a lot of pressure,” Baumgartner said. “I had to maintain consciousness because I needed to stop this spin, and I did. I had to use all of my skydiving skills to perform well in those four minutes and twenty seconds.”
Additionally, there’s no way to simulate such a high jump, making training a difficult prospect. The only way to really know if it can be done is simply to do it, says Baumgartner.
“The problem is you have to find a solution for how to stop the spin because you cannot practice for supersonic speed,” he said. “You either go for it or you don’t.”
Still, Baumgartner trained extensively, and says that he had no hesitation when he reached the edge of the platform.
“We have been practicing for this for five years,” he said. “In my mind, I did that jump many times. I was ready to go. I had an incredible view when I standing on top of the world, but at the same time you realize everything around is hostile. I thought, ‘I had the privilege to stand here and nobody else was there before.’ When you step off, you’re on the way.”
Lastly, Baumgartner actually admitted that he didn’t enjoy the space jump when asked by host Guthrie:
“Honestly, no,” he said. “This is hard work. Later on, when my parachute opened, this was the first moment where I enjoyed it a lot because I knew it was over and I’m alive.”
The jump paid off for sponsor Red Bull, as well. Yahoo Finance reports that the company may have secured a cool £100m from the space jump, and that the brand, known for its risk-taking, could be worth £5bn.
Here’s the video of Felix Baumgartner talking about the space jump and his retirement on Today: