the goat-footed balloonMan


The best bit of Felix Baumgartner’s record-breaking freefall from 39,045 metres was this description of falling at hundreds of miles an hour through a near vacuum:

“a state of suspended animation. No [sense of] acceleration, no movement, no noise, nothing. It was absolutely quiet, absolutely still, and absolutely horrifying.”

These were actually the words of his daredevil predecessor Joe Kittinger, who did a similar jump in 1960, sponsored by the US Government rather than Red Bull.

We haven’t heard whether Baumgartner experienced a similar moment of suspended animation and complete quiet. I doubt it. I expect that he could probably hear amplified, shouty rap music, like you get at all Red Bull sponsored events.

But I’m quite jealous. Partly because I’d like to jump out of a balloon and fly to the ground and partly because it must feel amazing to be falling in complete silence with no sense of movement and no effort, knowing that you are moving towards an important destination at the speed of sound. It is the exact opposite of normal life where most of the time you are deafened and buffeted by endless demands and distractions, whilst making almost no progress at all towards the landing zone and the champagne…

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