Austrian jumper Felix Baumgartner is the World Record holder for the first human to break the sound barrier without the assistance of a vehicle, the highest manned balloon flight, and previous World Record holder for the highest skydive. On October 14, 2012, Baumgartner jumped to Earth from a helium balloon in the stratosphere, skydiving an estimated 24 miles at an estimated top speed of 843 mph.
Born on April 20, 1969, Felix was raised in Salzburg, where he dreamed of skydiving and flying helicopters and was inspired by astronauts on TV. He made his first skydive at age 16. After sharpening his parachute skills as a member of a Special Forces demonstration team for the Austrian military, he supported himself by repairing motorcycles before becoming a skydiving professional.
In the 1990s, Felix extended the range of his canopy skills with BASE jumping. In 1997, he won the overall BASE jumping championship at West Virginia's Bridge Day, which draws competitors from around the world. His 1999 jump from the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur established a new world record for highest BASE jump from a building; and that same year he completed the lowest BASE jump in history from the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. A sampling of Felix's additional records includes jumping from the Millau Bridge in France (record for highest span) and Taiwan's Taipei 101 tower (new highest jump from building). He even BASE-jumped into a Croation cave equivalent to a 60-story building in depth.
Outside of his penchant for daredevil acts, Felix was named to Vienna's Street of Champions and awarded the 2012 BAMBI Award in the category of "Millennium," the Laureus World Sportsperson of the Year Award, and named the Nat Geo Adventurer of the Year for his unique achievement.
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