Wednesday, 31 July 2013
A unique channel crossing.
Was it a bird; was it a plane?
No: it was Felix Baumgartner taking a quick trip to France without using a ferry or the channel tunnel! He was the first person to skydive across the English channel.
It was on the 31st July 2003 (ten years ago today) at 05:09 hours, that Felix leapt out of a plane at 9000 metres above Dover, England, and headed for Cap Blanc-Nez, near Calais, France, some 35 kilometres away. All he needed for his travel was an aerodynamic jumpsuit with a 1.8 metre XC-K1 composite carbon wing strapped to his back, a tank of oxygen to assist his breathing, and a parachute to help him land as safely as possible.
After exiting the plane he initially reached speeds of 360 kilometres per hour with this reducing to 220 kph during most of his 6 minute and 22 seconds flight. Cloud cover that early morning made his journey a little difficult and after landing Felix said: “I couldn't see the other side so I had no reference point. I was flying over the clouds all the time. But, in the last 2,000 metres I could see those lights right over there so I knew I was going to make it.” Whilst recovering from the exhausting flight safely on French soil he told a BBC reporter: “It was total freedom. If you step out of the aeroplane at this altitude it's perfect because you see the sun rise . . . It's the beginning of the day. You're totally alone, there's just you, your equipment, your wing – and your skills. I like it.”
When I'm crossing the channel from Dover to Calais, I think I'll stick to using my car, a train, and the channel tunnel – even though it will take me 35 minutes.