ROSWELL, N.M. – How does it feel to leap from the edge of space?
Extreme athlete Felix Baumgartner plunged 24-miles from the stratosphere Oct. 14, a daring, dramatic feat that officials said made him the first skydiver to fall faster than the speed of sound. In his first cable news interview since surviving the daredevil stunt -- and a spin that whitened the knuckles of viewers around the world -- Baumgartner told Fox News how it felt to stand on top of the world.
“When you’re standing there, outside the capsule, on top of the world, you become so humbled -- it’s not about breaking records any more. It’s all about coming home alive,” Baumgartner told Fox News’ Martha MacCallum.
“Then you step off and you realize, everything around you is so hostile.”
Brian Utley, a jump observer from the International Federation of Sports Aviation, said after Baumgartner reached a maximum speed of 833.9 mph. That amounts to Mach 1.24, which is faster than the speed of sound. No one has ever reached that speed wearing only a high-tech suit.
After exiting the capsule, Baumgartner seemed almost immediately to enter a dramatic spin.
“It was a very violent spin. You could feel all your blood is going to your brain. And I knew I wasn’t going to pass out -- but it was close, you know? I had to fight it all the way through,” Baumgartner told Fox News.
That spin was actually a known issue, he said. Getting out of it would be the real challenge.
“You have about 40 seconds to figure out how you stop that spin, because I knew from the beginning on, you’re going to spin. I had to use all my skydiving skills in those 4 minutes to perform well,” he said.
After completing the jump, the culmination of five years’ worth of planning, Fearless Felix has no plans to jump again. But the future for this adrenaline junkie is anything but tame. Baumgarnter said he plans to start a new career as a helicopter pilot.
“I put everything out there and we succeed and now I think it’s time to move on. Because you cannot top this. This has been such an incredible journey, and I’m lucky everything went well … I’m going to work as a professional helicopter pilot in the future.”
“We knew it wasn’t going to be easy. There’s a reason Kittinger held the record for 52 years,” Baumgartner said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.