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Austrian Daredevil Breaks Sound Barrier In Record Jump

The world governing body for air sports and aeronautics has confirmed that an Austrian daredevil has broken the sound barrier in making the highest skydive in history. (Click here for a video of Baumgartner's record leap.) An official of the Federation Aeronautique Internationale said Felix Baumgartner reached a maximum speed of 1,342 kilometers per hour during his jump on October 14 over the U.S. southwestern desert state of New Mexico. That amounts to Mach 1.24 -- faster than the speed of sound. He became the first person to break the speed of sound unaided by a craft. Baumgartner, 43, landed safely after jumping from a balloon 39,000 meters above the Earth. He wore a pressurized suit to protect him. Organizers said his descent lasted more than nine minutes, about half in free-fall before he opened a parachute. Baumgartner said he encountered problems during the jump, including tumbling out of control. He said he thought he might lose consciousness before he finally was able to properly position his body. The stunt broke the 1960 record held by U.S. Air Force Colonel Joseph W. Kittinger, who was on Baumgartner's team in mission control. Click here for a 2008 interview with Kittinger, who still holds the record for longest free-fall, at 4 minutes 36 seconds. Baumgartner's free-fall lasted 4 minutes 20 seconds.