Space daredevil Felix Baumgartner is ‘officially retired’
UNITED NATIONS — Felix Baumgartner, the first man to break the sound barrier in freefall, says he is giving up being a daredevil but now aims to help others in trouble.
“I am officially retired from the daredevil business now,” the 43-year-old Austrian told UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in a meeting Tuesday to discuss his death-defying jump from the edge of space earlier this month.
Ban told Baumgartner how he had joined the millions who watched live coverage of the jump from 24 miles (39 kilometers) above New Mexico when the Austrian reached a claimed top speed of 833.9 miles (1,342 kilometers) per hour, 1.24 times the speed of sound.
“I thought my heart would stop,” the UN leader said, hailing Baumgartner as “the most courageous person in the world.”
“We talked about what I accomplished on October 14 and about future plans, how to inspire young people and women,” Baumgartner told AFP after his meeting with Ban. He said he was ready to get involved in a United Nations initiative.
But the former paratrooper said he was now concentrating on becoming a commercial helicopter pilot as a retirement job.
“I am going to put myself into public service as a pilot, rescuing people from mountains, as a firefighter,” he said, adding that he would work in Austria, Switzerland and the United States.
Though his jump caused mass jitters among others, Baumgartner said he has no physical scars.
“When I landed, I had a medical check and there were no problems,” he told AFP. But he is not recommending that anyone try to copy him, saying: “No, I wouldn’t. Trust me, it is difficult.”