I don’t know what it is, perhaps it is my infatuation with the poem “The Eagle” by Tennyson, perhaps it is from seeing the “Right Stuff” at just the right age….or just the fact that I love seeing humans push themselves past the point of perceived limitations, but right now I am absolutely obsessed with Felix Baumgartner.
Fearless Felix (no daredevil/test pilot goes without a nickname) will attempt to be the first human to break the sound barrier…….in free fall. Yes, you read that correctly. Baumgartner will ride a helium balloon in a capsule, and completely encased in a revolutionary pressurized suit he will soar 23 miles into the stratosphere, to the edge of space, so far up he can see the deep black and the curve of the earth, get up out of his seat, and fall…….
Because there is no atmosphere there to slow him down he will reach 690 mph, the sound barrier, in 45 seconds. He will, without a vehicle, break the sound barrier. I get goosebumps just typing that. It makes me think of myself, 12 years old, filled with awe as I took in the movie The Right Stuff for the first time. Learning the name Chuck Yeager and watching in awe as he piloted the Bell X-1 past mach 1, and walked away from crashing an F104 Starfighter after arguably taking it out of the earth’s atmosphere.
Watching a human risking his life simply “because it was there”.
This short clip is representation of what Baumgartner will attempt this Sunday at 10am EST….I challenge you to watch this and not find new faith in the determination of the human spirit.
So Fearless Felix Baumgartner, never has this poem been more appropriate….
The wrinkled sea beneath him crawls;
He watches from his mountain walls,