The record for the highest, fastest and longest skydive was set on August 16, 1960, by Joseph Kittinger, as part of the United States Air Force Project Excelsior. He jumped from a height of 31,300 meters (102,800 feet), reaching a maximum speed of 988 km/h (614 miles per hour). The free fall until he opened his parachute lasted 4 minutes and 36 seconds. It’s amazing to think that this record has never been broken in more than 50 years. This may change, however, due to Austrian skydiver Felix Baumgartner plans for this year.
It is expected that this week it will be announced the specific date and place for the jumping to take place, but it is assumed that it will occur this August, probably over New Mexico. Sponsored by Red Bull, Baumgartner will fall from a height of more than 36,500 meters (120,000 feet), thought to break through the sound barrier in 35 seconds.
He wants not only to break the record for the highest parachute jumping, but also those of longest distance travelled in freefall, speed record, and highest manned balloon flight. Over the year he will jump two times, from a height of 18,288 meters (60,000 feet) and of 27430 meters (90,000 feet), in order to test the equipment and his own skills.
Felix Baumgartner is a well-known skydiver and BASE jumper, being the first person to BASE jump from the hand of the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro and from the Millau Viaduct in France, among other records. His experience and skills in this field may be helpful for this event; among the risks he is facing, there is the chance to go into a spin and consequently to blackout.