Felix Baumgartner wants to be known as a world-record breaker, but not just any record. Baumgartner is a skydiving daredevil who wants to break the speed of sound with his body.
Thursday, Baumgartner, nicknamed "Fearless Felix," lifted off in a test run from Roswell, New Mexico, carried by a 100-foot helium balloon. The Austrian native wore a pressurized suit and was propelled inside a capsule, also pressurized, more than 13 miles up into the stratosphere. That's really high, but what Baumgartner did next is what has people talking. He jumped.
Fearless Felix was in free fall for 3 minutes and 43 seconds, reaching speeds of up to 364.4 miles per hour. He then safely parachuted to the ground. A mini mission control, modeled after NASA's, monitored his practice run from the ground level.
Baumgartner plans one more practice run, but this summer, as part of the Red Bull Stratos Project, he wants to beat the record of 19.5 miles set by Air Force Capt. Joe Kittinger in 1960. Baumgartner will be jumping from 23 miles up. If he is successful, he will indeed break the speed of sound with his body.
Baumgartner is well-known for his death-defying stunts. He has more than 2,500 jumps from planes, helicopters, and some of the world's highest skyscrapers and landmarks.
The author of the best-selling novels "Tuesdays With Morrie' and "The Five People You Meet in Heaven" is being called a hero. Mitch Albom saw a story on the news about Texana Hollis, a 101-year-old woman who was going to lose her home. Hollis's home had been foreclosed on last fall after her son failed to pay taxes on it. In addition, the home was deemed unsafe.
Instead of sitting idly by, Albom sprang into action. Together with his charity, S.A.Y. Detroit, Albom purchased Hollis's home from the Department of Housing and Urban Development and put $20,000 toward renovations into the home where Hollis had lived for 60 years. He told the Detroit Free Press, "You can't throw someone out like that. I don't care what the numbers are."
In two weeks, Hollis will be given the keys to her newly rehabbed home. As she thanked Albom and all of the volunteers who helped with the renovations, Hollis said that words could not express how she felt to get her home back. One person tweeted that Albom was a "great human" for his gift.
- Felix Baumgartner
- Mitch Albom