80 years of Eckart Witzigmann
94 years after Luis Bleriot first crossed the Channel in an airplane, Felix Baumgartner has succeeded in crossing the strait between England and France without any form of external drive.
At exactly 6.08 a.m. French time and at a temperature of minus 42 degrees centigrade, Felix made his exit from the tail end of a skyvan. Wearing a carbon fibre wing with a 1.8-meter span, he jumped out 9.800 meters above Dover and flew the 36 km to Calais in free fall, reaching a top speed of 360km/h. Due to the high altitude he had to breathe artificial oxygen.
Felix followed a Pilatus PC9 plane, which guided him on his way to France. After an airborne time of 6:22 minutes, he opened his chute at an altitude of 4000 feet and landed at Cap Blanc-Nez near Calais as planned. "It is an historic moment and the reward for three years of hard work for my entire team," said Felix once he was safely back on the ground.
The crossing succeeded by a narrow margin, and only thanks to favourable winds. Even though the flight was extremely stressful both physically and mentally, Felix is sure to remember the beautiful moments as well as its historical dimension: "While I was still at high altitude, I flew into my own shadow, which the morning sun was casting onto a cloud together with a rainbow. I don't think anyone has experienced that before..."