Wednesday morning, July 25, at 8:12 Mountain time, Red Bull Stratos jumper Felix Baumgartner exited a stratospheric balloon from approximately 97,000 feet for a freefall of 3 minutes 55 seconds. He reached an unofficial speed of 536 mph before deploying his parachute at approximately 13,000 feet above sea level, 8,000 feet above the desert southwest of Roswell, New Mexico.
USPA Director of Competition Jim Hayhurst and the National Aeronautic Association’s Brian Utley served as official observers. Pending analysis of GPS data, the Stratos team may potentially claim three new Fédération Aéronautique Internationale world records. Two are almost 50 years old, both held by Major Yevgeny N. Andreyev of the Soviet Union, who in 1962 jumped from a balloon gondola 83,529 feet above sea level, freefalling 80,380 feet before deploying his parachute. Baumgartner’s jump has potentially eclipsed both Andreyev’s records, as well as his own vertical speed record of 365 mph, which he achieved on the first Stratos jump in March. Unfortunately, the Stratos capsule sustained damage on landing, potentially delaying the third and final Stratos jump, planned for 120,000 feet to break Joe Kittinger’s historic mark of 102,800 feet, set in 1960.