Spacejumper Felix Baumgartner comes back down to Earth
One year since eight million people watched his 834 mph jump from the edge of space, risking his life for a live audience, Felix Baumgartner has settled into a more regular lifestyle and is training to become a mountain rescue pilot.
Metro spoke to the Austrian ahead of a new documentary of the historic leap, who said he does not miss the thrill.
How did you celebrate after the jump?
We went to a steakhouse in Roswell, there were 25 of us who had been working together and it was very emotional. We couldn’t party in Roswell as there’s nowhere to go for that, but it carried on back in Austria and everybody wanted to speak to me.
What is your strongest memory of that whole experience?
My fight with the suit, because it was so scary and uncomfortable for me that I didn’t think I could overcome the feeling. But I worked with a very good therapist for three months and we got through it, and that made me feel like anything was possible.
How has the mission changed you?
I don’t know if it has because I was always about putting one foot in front of the other and that is still my mentality. I was never a thrillseeker, just someone who looks for great challenges and works methodically to pass the tests.
But you are a global celebrity now – surely that is a game-changer?
That is the interesting aspect; I feel like I have done four trips around the world and met many famous and powerful people. James Cameron was one of the most interesting, we talked about his trip to the bottom of the Mariana Trench and is so enthusiastic about exploration. I have also discussed space travel for hours at a time with Tom Cruise. I have these people’s numbers on my phone and we talk. That is the network I have been able to develop in the past year; I hope we can collaborate on projects.
How would you like to use your new influence – I read you would prefer dictatorships to democracy?
No, that was a misrepresentation, and I’m not interested in politics. My field is more to do with space exploration, education and trying to involve young people.
Would you like others to follow in your footsteps – could spacejumping get popular?
This is one of my goals – but I don’t think spacejumping could be a sport because there is so much equipment and planning involved. But the technology we developed could be used in emergency situations. And I would like for young people to pursue adventures that allow them to become heroes rather than wasting their time on computers. I think space exploration can become more open to more people as it gets safer.
What does it do for someone to become so familiar with adrenaline?
It helps you to shift your limits and realize that nothing is impossible. When you have been through such extreme experiences you know you can come out the other side, which helps you keep your focus under pressure. That is in any walk of life, in any job.
What is better and worse about your new life?
That I can meet so many people and have such opportunities is new and fantastic. What goes with that is more scrutiny and people bothering me wherever I go. I want to give something back for all the privileges I have and public service (for mountain rescue) is natural for me.
Do you relive your jump? Do you ever dream about being back on top of the world?
Never, I have just completely absorbed it. That was an incredible experience and I am very lucky, but I have a different life now.