The world was watching as Felix Baumgartner jumped 128,100 feet at the edge of Earth’s atmosphere on Sunday.
Baumgartner broke three different sky-diving records on Sunday, NPR reports: He completed the highest jump, went on the longest free fall of nearly 120,000 feet, and had the fastest vertical velocity, at Mach 1.24, or 833.9 miles per hour.
That’s over 600 miles per hour faster than the average skydiving freefall, according to Bob Johns, owner of Alaska Sky Sports.
Baumgartner prepared for the event with two successively higher jumps leading up to Sunday’s record-breaking skydive. On March 15, 2012, Baumgartner safely jumped 13 miles, and on July 25, he leapt 18 miles from a specially made capsule. His Sunday jump broke the record set in 1961 by Joseph Kittinger, who safely landed from a jump at 102,800 feet from a manned balloon.
Alaskans are known for being a little adventurous, but how many are keen on throwing themselves out of a perfectly good airplane?
Johns says that there are about 30 regular skydivers in Alaska. Alaska Sky Sports, located outside of Anchorage, is the only skydiving outfit in the state, and it's only open during the summer.
During just a few short months, about 400 people skydive with the company, most of them Alaskans. Everyone who comes through is “happy they did it,” Johns says, although “some are just happy they got on the ground."
Most folks jump from about 10,000 to 12,000 feet. The highest Johns has ever jumped is double that, at 24,000 feet. Nowhere close to Baumgartner’s 24-mile jump, but still.
Johns has been skydiving for 42 years; he has made more than 7,300 jumps and has never had any serious injuries. “I used to be a skier and I got hurt all the time,” he chuckles.
Even though Johns is a skydiving veteran, it still “totally surprises me that I’m able to talk people into making a jump that have never met me before.”
Perhaps Alaskans just have a wild streak.
Check out the entire video of Baumgartner’s death-defying jump below.