Austrian “Air Adventurer,” Felix “Bulletman” Baumgartner, Breaks Sound Barrier During “Fantastic Freefall” at Mach 1.24———833.9 mph!

Felix Baumgartner gives a snappy salute to reporters before embarking on his record-setting, high-altitude jump on Oct. 14th, 2012. (Photo: Red Bull)

Chuck Yeager was the first man to fly faster than the speed of sound on October 14, 1947, in the Bell X-1 rocket plane. (Photo: USAF)

As you undoubtedly already know by now, on Sunday, October 14, 2012, Austrian daredevil and skydiver, Felix Baumgartner made aerospace history by breaking the sound barrier without an airplane and setting high-altitude ballooning and human freefall airspeed records. As fate would have it, his record-breaking attempt would take place on the same day as USAF test pilot Chuck Yeager’s momentous flight in the Bell X-1 rocket plane, over 65 years ago. Clearly, Oct. 14th is a day for making history!

Long before Baumgartner’s leap into history, another hero made his own successful leap—onto toy store shelves around the world. The Air Adventurer’s “Fantastic Freefall” set remains one of the most popular GIjOE sets ever made. (Photo: atdaily)

In the comic “Fantastic Freefall,” GIjOE was forced out of his burning jet aircraft. By contrast, Baumgartner chose to jump from a perfectly good balloon and capsule at over 43 miles up. WOW! (Photo: atdaily)

Baumgartner’s pressure suit and capsule would make an exciting new set for GIjOE. Hello, Hasbro? (Photo: Red Bull)

The parallels of Baumgartner to the Air Adventurer, the 1970s-era Adventure Team, and everyone’s favorite flying friend, Bulletman  are obvious and unmistakable. His “need for speed” and “can-do,” risk-taking attitude exemplifies the best of everything we admire and imagine about our 12″ heroes. If you missed any of the big show, here are some YouTube screenshots taken during the broadcast of that momentous event. Enjoy!

Crew members prepare to inflate Baumgartner’s balloon with helium in the early morning hours. (Photo: Red Bull)

The fabric of Baumgartner’s balloon was “10 times thinner than a sandwich bag.” Any rip or tear during its preparation and inflation would have ended the mission immediately.
(Photo: Red Bull)

Filling the balloon with exactly the right amount of helium required time, expertise and LUCK. (Photo: Red Bull)

Baumgartner walking to the capsule in a pressurized suit similar to the ones created by NASA for their Mercury and Gemini astronauts. (Photo: Red Bull)

In a scene reminiscent of GIjOE’s Mercury space capsule, Baumgartner studies his controls and readouts before the ascent. (Photo: Red Bull)

Baumgartner’s capsule was held securely with a large crane until the balloon achieved sufficient buoyancy to lift it into the sky. (Photo: Red Bull)

Members of the ground crew cheer as the balloon and capsule are safely away.
(Photo: Red Bull)

There were many tense moments during the flight as Baumgartner and the ground crew repeatedly went over checklists and procedures. (Photo: Red Bull)

Ever fearful that things could go horribly wrong and that they were about to broadcast a man jumping to his death, Red Bull’s “Mission Control” kept its fingers tight on the editing buttons. When Baumgartner’s helmet began to fog up and he declared, “This is very serious,” audio between Felix and the ground crew was cut from the public broadcast. Moments of silence followed as they worked on the helmet problem (with little success). It was obvious that if things looked like they were going badly, plans had been made to cut the audio and even “go to black” on the video. Fortunately for all concerned, the fogging of his helmet visor did not prevent Baumgartner from completing the jump and audio was eventually restored.
(Photo: Red Bull)

Baumgartner’s capsule during the ascent. Look at the altitude! (Photo: Red Bull)

Red Bull even set up a roomful of “Mission Control” observers, reminiscent of NASA and other space agencies. (Photo: Red Bull)

Nearing its highest altitude, the balloon expanded dramatically, dwarfing the tiny capsule suspended below it. At this point, bursting became a real threat and it became imperative to get Baumgartner out and onto the jump platform as soon as possible.
(Photo: Red Bull)

While waiting for the capsule to depressurize, Baumgartner sounded as if he was getting tense and anxious, clearly concerned that the capsule hatch was not going to open on time. When it finally did, the hatch opening revealed a startling view of space and the stratosphere to Baumgartner and his world-wide audience. (Photo: Red Bull)

Baumgartner stepped out, said a few words and jumped. During his jump, he would break the sound barrier falling at over 833 mph! (Photo: Red Bull)

In a scene familiar to any GIjOE fan who’s ever attended a parachute drop, after recovering from an out-of-control spin, Baumgartner free-falled until his chute finally opened and he glided safely back down to Earth. (Photo: Red Bull)

Baumgartner’s mother and family members cheered when his chute opened and he made it back down safely. (Photo: Red Bull)

After touching down, friends and crew members retrieve Baumgartner in the New Mexico desert. This aerial shot was probably taken by a helicopter filming the event for a BBC documentary to be released early next year. (Photo: Red Bull)

When asked by reporters for a comment about Baumgartner’s record-breaking jump, a bemused Bulletman simply replied, “Heck, I break Mach-1 every morning for breakfast. What’s the big deal?” (Photo: cmderinchief)

Take a look at the photo above. Doesn’t Baumgartner look like a GIjOE action figure standing there? I wonder who will be the first talented customizer out there to create a 1:6 scale version of this scene? Or to build a custom recreation of his amazing capsule?

Of course, the Defenders of Bulletman will say this is nothing new to them. After all, many rifle bullets travel at 1,924 miles per hour. But still, you gotta give this Baumgartner guy his props. He’s got GUTS!

We certainly do live in amazing times. Just when you think you’ve seen everything, something WILD and exciting like this comes along. We want to wish Mr. Baumgartner all the best in his future endeavours and “derring-do” exploits.

Go, Felix! GO, JOE! Okay, let’s see those customs. Time to get busy, Joeheads!


3 thoughts on “Austrian “Air Adventurer,” Felix “Bulletman” Baumgartner, Breaks Sound Barrier During “Fantastic Freefall” at Mach 1.24———833.9 mph!

  1. kneonknight says:

    Interesting Trivia: G.I. Joe was there for this record setting freefall, in the person of Colonel Joseph Kittinger, a former U.S.A.F. pilot and holder of the previous skydive record of 19 miles (31 kilometers), diring which he also broke Mach 1. During this jump, Col. Kittinger acted as “capsule communicator”, directing and advising Mr. Baumgartner during the event.
    Colonel Kittinger is a highly decorated veteran of the Vietnam War, and currently works as an aviation consultant and part time barn-stormer.

    • Thanks so much for mentioning Kittinger! His experienced commentary and “read-off” of Baumgartner’s pre-jump checklist made this record-breaking freefall seem all the more official AND touching.

  2. Gary says:

    AWESOME ARTICLE! Great coverage! GO JOE and GO FELIX! ….I also look forward to seeing those custom dioramas of this amazing sound-breaking feat!

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