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Moment that mattered: Felix Baumgartner skydives from the edge of space

Pilot Felix Baumgartner of Austria jumps out from the capsule during the final manned flight for Red Bull Stratos in Roswell, New Mexico, USA on October 14, 2012. // Red Bull Stratos / Red Bull Content Pool // P-20121016-00084 // Usage for editorial use only // Please go to www.redbullcontentpool.com for further information. //

 

 

“I didn’t see Felix jump off the Petronas Twin Towers in Kuala Lumpur or the right hand of Christ the Redeemer in Rio de Janeiro. In fact before his jump from space he had made around 2,500 jumps and I’d never been there to watch him. But for this one, I just felt I had to be there.

I was praying the whole time – not just that the jump would end well, but also that it would finally take place and that there wouldn’t be another delay because of the balloon or something else.

The last time I saw my son before he jumped was the night before, when we had dinner together. In the morning all I brought with me was my crucifix, which I clutched tightly throughout. When the balloon started rising, so did my fears. I thought, what if he goes up there and something goes wrong? I might never see him again. People kept coming up to reassure me, but it didn’t help. Thankfully, all went well. Felix made the highest jump ever, and became the first skydiver to break the speed of sound.

When he landed, it was just wonderful to see him grinning from ear to ear. It was crazy – how could he jump from 39,000 metres and touch the ground with such a huge smile on his face? If that had been me, I would have laid on the floor and stayed there for at least five minutes. But that’s Felix for you.

Even as a boy, Felix was fearless. He was a bright kid who boxed, rode his BMX bike and did judo with his brother, and if he ever hurt himself he’d just brush it off, saying ‘It’ll be okay.’  Since the jump he has been sent thousands of fan letters from children who say that he has inspired them to be courageous and to follow their dreams. Some even say that his jump has changed their lives. I read all the letters and file them in plastic folders, ready for Felix to read when he has time.

I was never angry with Felix about doing this jump and risking his life. He prepared himself for so long, and he always kept me and his dad up to date, briefing us on the latest progress on the mission over the course of five years. We always supported him and I never thought to ask him not to go through with it. Now, months after the jump, I still get tears of pride in my eyes as I watch the video, and see that dreamlike image of him coming out of the capsule. That said, I’m hoping Felix will now keep his feet on the ground for a while!”

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