A Look Inside Felix Baumgartner’s US Media Tour and Hero’s Welcome to Austria

A look inside Felix Baumgartner’s U.S. media tour with Q & A before ending with a visit to meet UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon and a hero’s return to Austria.

Felix Baumgartner of Austria awaits his interview in the changing room at the Jimmy Fallon Show at NBC Studios in New York City, NY on October 22, 2012 // Brian Nevins/Red Bull Content Pool //

Felix Baumgartner of Austria awaits his interview in the dressing room at the Jimmy Fallon Show at NBC Studios in New York City, NY on October 22, 2012 // Brian Nevins/Red Bull Content Pool

How do you feel now that you’ve had a few days since your jump on 14 October to think about your achievements?

It’s still too much to fully comprehend. Besides the physical exhaustion and mental exhilaration, the huge response from people from around the world has been humbling. I am still taking it all in, and I truly appreciate all the good wishes and congratulations that have come my way. It’s been incredible.

What are your plans for the near future?

While I’ve enjoyed my time in New Mexico and will never forget my experiences – or the people – here, it’s time for me to start working my way home. I am heading to Los Angeles, where I stayed while I did a lot of my training. I’ll enjoy some Southern California sunshine while I pack up and continue to try to absorb what I’ve experienced. I’ll also have a few media interviews while I’m in that area – the local media there have been fantastic throughout my stay.

Felix Baumgartner of Austria poses for a portrait at Times Square in New York City, NY on October 22, 2012 // Brian Nevins / Red Bull Content Pool

Felix Baumgartner of Austria poses for a portrait at Times Square in New York City, NY on October 22, 2012 // Brian Nevins/Red Bull Content Pool

Then I’ll fly to the U.S. East Coast for a media tour in New York City and Washington DC on Monday and Tuesday. After that, I’ll get on the long flight back to Switzerland and — not too long from now — also Austria, to re-connect with all the family and friends who are waiting for me. I can’t wait to see them!

How about long-term? What are your plans?

Helicopters! You can’t keep me out of the air. I have already been flying as a commercial helicopter pilot in Europe, and now I will have the time to take that aspect of my career to the next level. I’m really looking forward to it.

While you’re moving on to new adventures, people still can’t seem to get enough of Red Bull Stratos. How can they learn more?

A feature-length documentary produced by the BBC and National Geographic is coming out soon (November 4th (UK) BBC2 and 11th (USA)) ‘Space Dive‘ will cover the project from the early stages through to the present – I just finished the last filming with their crew. I’ll enjoy seeing it and reliving the adventure myself!

How does it feel for a man who has just accomplished the dream of a lifetime?

Baumgartner: “I feel like 20 tonnes of ballast have just dropped off my shoulders, that’s how it feels after seven years of preparation and after you’ve played through this moment in your mind so many times before. It was an incredible up and down today, just like it’s been with the whole project. First we got off with a beautiful launch and then we had a bit of drama with the chest pack. We were close to aborting the mission because the heater for my visor wasn’t working properly. I thought ‘this can’t be happening’. It didn’t get any better and it was very draining. But we decided to go ahead anyhow. As you can see that was the right decision.”

Our hearts all stood still as you started to spin. It looked like about 30 times. Were you counting yourself?

“The exit was actually perfect. I felt like I came away very well. But then I started spinning slowly. I thought I’d just spin a few times and that would be that, but then I started to speed up. It was really brutal at times. I thought for a few seconds that I’d lose consciousness. I didn’t feel a sonic boom because I was so busy just trying to stabilize myself. We’ll have to wait and see if we really broke the sound barrier. It was really a lot harder than I thought it was going to be.”

Felix Baumgartner of Austria greets his fans while entering the Jimmy Fallon Show at NBC Studios in New York City, NY on October 22, 2012 // Brian Nevins/Red Bull Content Pool

Felix Baumgartner of Austria greets his fans while entering the Jimmy Fallon Show at NBC Studios in New York City, NY on October 22, 2012 // Brian Nevins/Red Bull Content Pool

Felix Baumgartner was the toast of the town in New York on Monday and Tuesday, signing autographs to cheering fans and answering questions from dozens of journalists in a series of marathon session of interviews that lasted from dawn until dusk in the media capital of the United States.

Felix Baumgartner of Austria greets a fan in Times Square in New York City, NY on October 22, 2012 // Brian Nevins/Red Bull Content Pool

Felix Baumgartner of Austria greets a fan in Times Square in New York City, NY on October 22, 2012 // Brian Nevins/Red Bull Content Pool

The media’s fascination in the United States and around the world over the Austrian’s leap for the ages in which he hit a top speed of Mach 1.24 — or 833.9 mph (1,342.8 kph) – remains high ahead of the broadcast on November 4th (UK) and 11th (USA) of a BBC /National Geographic Channel documentary film about the entire project and Felix Baumgartner’s hero journey.

Felix Baumgartner of Austria signs autographs and greets his fans while entering the Jimmy Fallon Show at NBC Studios in New York City, NY on October 22, 2012 // Brian Nevins/Red Bull Content Pool

Felix Baumgartner of Austria signs autographs and greets his fans while entering the Jimmy Fallon Show at NBC Studios in New York City, NY on October 22, 2012 // Brian Nevins/Red Bull Content Pool

Meeting Jimmy Fallon, Baumgartner had the studio audience rolling with laughter. When asked by the host what he was thinking during his freefall, Baumgartner quipped: “I hope I land on the right planet.

Felix Baumgartner Dressing Room with Jimmy Fallon  (C) Lloyd Bishop / NBC

Felix’s Dressing Room with Jimmy Fallon (c) Lloyd Bishop / NBC

Felix Baumgartner of Austria interviews with Al Roker on the Today Show in New York City, NY on October 22, 2012 // Brian Nevins/Red Bull Content Pool

Felix Baumgartner interviewed by Al Roker on the Today Show in New York City, NY on October 22, 2012 // Brian Nevins/Red Bull Content Pool

On the ‘TODAY’ show, Baumgartner also said the jump was no fun and talked about the difficulties he had stabilizing himself during the out-of-control spin at high altitude where the atmosphere was perilously thin.

When asked if he was able to stay calm throughout, Baumgartner admitted it was difficult at times. “I wasn’t calm the whole time because when you travel at the speed of sound, how can you be calm?” he said. “I knew I was going to tumble and knew it was going to be tough. It was a violent spin. I was using all my skydiving experience to stop the spin. You know you have about 50 seconds to stop that spin, you know you’re traveling at supersonic speed and you know the whole world is watching. So you’re not calm and you’re on fire.”

Felix Baumgartner of Austria poses for a photograph with Brian Todd (CNN) of the United States in New York City, NY on October 22, 2012 // Brian Nevins/Red Bull Content Pool

Felix Baumgartner of Austria poses for a photograph with Brian Todd (CNN) of the United States in New York City, NY on October 22, 2012 // Brian Nevins/Red Bull Content Pool

Felix Baumgartner on set with Bill Hemmer and Martha MacCallum of Americas Newsroom in New York City, NY on October 22, 2012 // Brian Nevins/Red Bull Content Pool

Felix Baumgartner on set with Bill Hemmer and Martha MacCallum of America’s Newsroom in New York City, NY on October 22, 2012 // Brian Nevins/Red Bull Content Pool

On Anderson Cooper’s 360 show Felix admitted ‘I didn’t feel sonic boom‘ and the skydiver said he was worried about nailing the perfect landing without falling because “the whole world was watching.” He told AC360 he didn’t have much time to look around up there as once he’d disconnected his oxygen hoses from the capsule, he only had ten minutes supply from his own bottles. He admitted overcoming fear of being trapped inside his space suit as since he started skydiving at 16 all’s he wanted is to be free.

After giving dozens of interviews to journalists from around the world and visiting the leading TV shows in New York – including NBC’s ‘TODAY’ and ‘Late Night with Jimmy Fallon’, he closed his US media tour by attending a meeting at the United Nations headquarters with UN general secretary Ban Ki-moon.

Felix Baumgartner meets United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the United Nations in New York City, NY on October 23, 2012 // Brian Nevins/Red Bull Content Pool

Felix Baumgartner meets United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the United Nations in New York City, NY on October 23, 2012 // Brian Nevins/Red Bull Content Pool

The highlight of the visit in New York was a friendly meet and greet with UN General Secretary Ban Ki-moon who followed the Red Bull Stratos Mission closely, having it watched also live on TV last Sunday together with his family. Ki-moon expressed his appreciation for Felix Baumgartner’s achievements and invited him to work closely with the UN organization in the future as role model for young people in important areas such as science, research and education. “In the next weeks I will process what has happened and work with the United Nations to find out how I can play a role,” Baumgartner said. “I would love to have kids of my own someday, but in the meantime it would be wonderful to work with children around the world.”

“My advice to Felix as he moves on is to take advantage of this opportunity to be an Ambassador for the UN and encourage the youth of the world,” said Col. Joe Kittinger, the mentor who held the records Baumgartner broke in New Mexico. Looking around at a team that besides Clark, Thompson, and Todd also included high performance director Andy Walshe and skydiving consultant Luke Aikins, Kittinger stated, “As for the rest of us, I am sure we will all look for other challenges, but we will never have one as exciting as Red Bull Stratos.”

Felix Baumgartner of Austria signs the guest book and meets United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the United Nations in New York City, NY on October 23, 2012 // Brian Nevins/Red Bull Content Pool

Felix Baumgartner of Austria signs the guest book and meets United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon at the United Nations in New York City, NY on October 23, 2012 // Brian Nevins/Red Bull Content Pool

After which, he began his journey back to Austria where a private celebration party is planned with the entire Mission Team.

The Red Bull Stratos Team of the United States seen in the historic DC-6 Airplane prior to a sightseeing flight over the Austrian Alps in Salzburg, Austria on October 25, 2012. // Jörg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool

Just over a week after his historic jump from the stratosphere. Baumgartner, who became the first person to break the speed of sound in freefall from the edge of space over the New Mexico desert, will return home to a hero’s welcome in his native Austria on Friday.

The Red Bull Stratos Team of the United States poses for a photograph in front of the historic DC-6 Airplane in Salzburg, Austria on October 25, 2012. // Jörg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool

The Red Bull Stratos Team of the United States poses for a photograph in front of the historic DC-6 Airplane in Salzburg, Austria on October 25, 2012. // Jörg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool

Felix Baumgartner of Austria arrives with a jet airplane to the Hangar 7 in Salzburg, Austria on October 26, 2012. // Jörg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool

Felix Baumgartner of Austria arrives with a jet airplane to the Hangar 7 in Salzburg, Austria on October 26, 2012. // Jörg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool

Eva Baumgartner, Felix Baumgartner and Nicole Oetl

Eva Baumgartner, Felix Baumgartner and Nicole Oetl seen at the welcome ceremony at the Hangar 7 in Salzburg, Austria on October 26, 2012. // Jörg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool

Felix Baumgartner poses with a traditional local band for a photograph at Hangar 7 in Salzburg, Austria on October 26, 2012. // Jörg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool

The guests of the Servus TV show pose for a photograph at the Hangar 7 in Salzburg, Austria on October 26, 2012. // Jörg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool

The guests of the Servus TV show pose for a photograph at the Hangar 7 in Salzburg, Austria on October 26, 2012. // Jörg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool

Felix Baumgartner receives the Taurus Award at the Hangar 7 in Salzburg, Austria on October 26, 2012. // Jörg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool

Felix Baumgartner receives the Taurus Award at the Hangar 7 in Salzburg, Austria on October 26, 2012. // Jörg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool

Felix joined the entire mission team for a two-hour live television special that recapped the historic achievement, noted that he is preparing to enter a new phase of his life as a helicopter pilot — a profession he’s dreamed of since childhood and for which he’s already licensed. “You need challenges, a reason to get up in the morning, and I will be flying mountain rescues,” he commented. “It will be interesting and I will still be in the air.”

Felix Baumgartner of Austria talks during the press conference   at the Hangar 7 in Salzburg, Austria on October 27, 2012. // Jörg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool

Felix Baumgartner of Austria talks during the press conference at the Hangar 7 in Salzburg, Austria on October 27, 2012. // Jörg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool

Comments

  1. Gail Parsons says

    Nice coverage – thanks!

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