Skydiver “Fearless Felix” Breaks Sound Barrier

“Sometimes we have to get really high to see how small we are,” Felix Baumgartner says

By Juan Carlos Llorca • Published October 14, 2012 • Updated on October 15, 2012 at 9:40 am

In a giant leap from more than 24 miles up, a daredevil skydiver shattered the sound barrier Sunday while making the highest jump ever — a tumbling, death-defying plunge from a balloon to a safe landing in the New Mexico desert.

Felix Baumgartner hit Mach 1.24, or 833.9 mph, according to preliminary data, and became the first person to reach supersonic speed without traveling in a jet or a spacecraft after hopping out of a capsule that had reached an altitude of 128,100 feet above the Earth.

Landing on his feet in the desert, the man known as “Fearless Felix” lifted his arms in victory to the cheers of jubilant friends and spectators who closely followed his descent in a live television feed at the command center

“When I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble, you do not think about breaking records anymore, you do not think about gaining scientific data,” he said after the jump. “The only thing you want is to come back alive.”

A worldwide audience watched live on the Internet via cameras mounted on his capsule as Baumgartner, wearing a pressurized suit, stood in the doorway of his pod, gave a thumbs-up and leapt into the stratosphere.

“Sometimes we have to get really high to see how small we are,” an exuberant Baumgartner told reporters outside mission control after the jump.

Baumgartner’s descent lasted just over nine minutes, about half of it in a free fall of 119,846 feet, according to Brian Utley, a jump observer from the FAI, an international group that works to determine and maintain the integrity of aviation records. He said the speed calculations were preliminary figures.

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During the first part of Baumgartner’s free fall, anxious onlookers at the command center held their breath as he appeared to spin uncontrollably.

“When I was spinning first 10, 20 seconds, I never thought I was going to lose my life but I was disappointed because I’m going to lose my record. I put seven years of my life into this,” he said.

He added: “In that situation, when you spin around, it’s like hell and you don’t know if you can get out of that spin or not. Of course it was terrifying. I was fighting all the way down because I knew that there must be a moment where I can handle it.”

Baumgartner said traveling faster than sound is “hard to describe because you don’t feel it.” The pressurized suit prevented him from feeling the rushing air or even the loud noise he made when breaking the sound barrier.

With no reference points, “you don’t know how fast you travel,” he said.

The 43-year-old former Austrian paratrooper with more than 2,500 jumps behind him had taken off early Sunday in a capsule carried by a 55-story ultra-thin helium balloon.

His ascent was tense at times and included concerns about how well his facial shield was working.

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Any contact with the capsule on his exit could have torn his suit, a rip that could expose him to a lack of oxygen and temperatures as low as minus-70 degrees. That could have caused lethal bubbles to form in his bodily fluids.

But none of that happened. He activated his parachute as he neared Earth, gently gliding into the desert about 40 miles east of Roswell and landing smoothly. The images triggered another loud cheer from onlookers at mission control, among them his mother, Eva Baumgartner, who was overcome with emotion, crying.

He then was taken by helicopter to meet fellow members of his team, whom he hugged in celebration.

Coincidentally, Baumgartner’s accomplishment came on the 65th anniversary of the day that U.S. test pilot Chuck Yeager became the first person to officially break the sound barrier in a jet. Yeager, in fact, commemorated that feat on Sunday, flying in the back seat of an F-15 Eagle as it broke the sound barrier at more than 30,000 feet above California’s Mojave Desert.

At Baumgartner’s insistence, some 30 cameras recorded his stunt. Shortly after launch, screens at mission control showed the capsule, dangling from the massive balloon, as it rose gracefully above the New Mexico desert, with cheers erupting from organizers. Baumgartner could be seen on video, calmly checking instruments inside.

The dive was, in fact, more than just a stunt. NASA is eager to improve its blueprints for future spacesuits.

Baumgartner’s team included Joe Kittinger, who first tried to break the sound barrier from 19.5 miles up in 1960, reaching speeds of 614 mph. With Kittinger inside mission control, the two men could be heard going over technical details during the ascension.

“Our guardian angel will take care of you,” Kittinger radioed to Baumgartner around the 100,000-foot mark.

An hour into the flight, Baumgartner had ascended more than 63,000 feet and had gone through a trial run of the jump sequence. Ballast was dropped to speed up the ascent.

Kittinger told him, “Everything is in the green. Doing great.”

As Baumgartner ascended, so did the number of viewers watching on YouTube; company officials said the event broke a site record with more than 8 million simultaneous live streams at its peak.

After Baumgartner landed, his sponsor, Red Bull, posted a picture of him on his knees on the ground to Facebook, generating nearly 216,000 likes, 10,000 comments and more than 29,000 shares in less than 40 minutes.

On Twitter, half the worldwide trending topics had something to do with the jump, pushing past seven NFL football games. Among them was this tweet from NASA: “Congratulations to Felix Baumgartner and RedBull Stratos on record-breaking leap from the edge of space!”

This attempt marked the end of a long road for Baumgartner, a record-setting high-altitude jumper. He already made two preparation jumps in the area, one from 15 miles high and another from 18 miles high. He has said that this was his final jump.

Red Bull has never said how much the long-running, complex project cost.

Although he broke the sound barrier, the highest manned-balloon flight record and became the man to jump from the highest altitude, he failed to break Kittinger’s 5 minute and 35 second longest free fall record. Baumgartner’s was timed at 4 minutes and 20 seconds in free fall.

He said he opened his parachute at 5,000 feet because that was the plan.

“I was putting everything out there, and hope for the best and if we left one record for Joe — hey, it’s fine,” he said when asked if he intentionally left the record for Kittinger to hold. “We needed Joe Kittinger to help us break his own record and that tells the story of how difficult it was and how smart they were in the 60’s. He is 84 years old, and he is still so bright and intelligent and enthusiastic.”

Baumgartner has said he plans to settle down with his girlfriend and fly helicopters on mountain rescue and firefighting missions in the U.S. and Austria.

Before that, though, he said, “I’ll go back to LA to chill out for a few days . will take it easy as hell, trust me.”

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Felix Broke The Sound Barrier In His Sky Dive – But What Does That Mean?

Felix Baumgartner broke a bunch of records in his historic sky dive from the edge of space, including becoming the first person ever to break the sound barrier, reaching a speed of about 834 miles per hour, without the aid of a craft of some kind. But what does it mean to “break the sound barrier?” And how can I use that knowledge in the audio recording and live sound worlds?

How Does The Speed Of Sound Relate To Audio Recording?

Well, basically breaking the sound barrier means that you move from a speed that is less than the speed of sound to a speed that is faster than the speed of sound. Since there are lots of variables involved that are ever-changing and rarely the same from one place to another (things like temperature, air pressure and density, etc.), it is generally accepted as a good approximation that the speed of sound is 1,125 feet per second at room temperature. That’s the same as 768 miles per hour, 1,235 kilometers per hour, 1 mile every 5 seconds, or 1 millisecond (ms) per foot.

But as people who are concerned about recording audio in our home studios, or doing live sound work, it’s the 1 millisecond per foot number that is most useful to us. How is it useful? Well, when we know that 1 foot = 1 millisecond, we can apply delays on certain sounds in our recording projects to correct for timing issues, especially when using multiple microphones on a single source.

An Example of The Speed of Sound In The Studio

For example, a lead guitar in a rock song needs to be very clear and “up-front,” but it also needs to sound huge. You can get the clarity and up-front part simply by placing a microphone very close to the amplifier grill – like just an inch or two.

Over the years it has become pretty standard to use a dynamic mic like the Shure SM57 for this. But that won’t give you the large/huge sound that you want. For that you need a far-away mic, something placed about 10-15 feet away. At that distance a large diaphragm condenser mic would work well. An AKG C214 would work well for this due to its ability to withstand loud sound signals.

Speed-Of-Sound In Audio Recording

So now you have 2 microphones recording a single sound, the electric guitar. But one of the 2 mics is 10 or 15 feet further away, and the sound will reach them at different times.

Blending the sound from both mics will reduce or eliminate the clarity and attack of the guitar that we need because of the delay of the sound going into the far-away mic.

But armed with our new-found knowledge about the speed of sound, we can compensate for the delay by simply adding some delay to the close mic. In the studio you can use a delay effect in your recording software/DAW (such as Reaper or Pro Tools). If recording live, or otherwise using outboard gear, you can use a hardware delay unit such as the TC Electronic D-Two.

How much delay do we need? Let’s go back to our speed-of-sound number – 1 millisecond = 1 foot. So if the far-away mic was 10 feet away, we add 10 milliseconds to the close-up mic to compensate for the distance difference in the mics. Now we have both a clear AND a large-sounding lead guitar sound!

See? Now you know how Felix Baumgartner breaking the sound barrier relates to recording audio. You’ll find other uses for this knowledge as you do more and more recording or live sound.

0 comments on “Felix Broke The Sound Barrier In His Sky Dive – But What Does That Mean?”

Ken, great information and I love the way you tied it into the news of the day! I now have some ideas on miking a GTR amp I did not think of before.
Thanks and keep up the good work!

Thanks Allen! It was actually my wife’s idea;). I’m glad it was helpful. Say hi to Sheri for me!

Felix Broke The Sound Barrier In His Sky Dive – But What Does That Mean?

Felix Baumgartner broke a bunch of records in his historic sky dive from the edge of space, including becoming the first person ever to break the sound barrier, reaching a speed of about 834 miles per hour, without the aid of a craft of some kind. But what does it mean to “break the sound barrier?” And how can I use that knowledge in the audio recording and live sound worlds?

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How Does The Speed Of Sound Relate To Audio Recording?

Well, basically breaking the sound barrier means that you move from a speed that is less than the speed of sound to a speed that is faster than the speed of sound. Since there are lots of variables involved that are ever-changing and rarely the same from one place to another (things like temperature, air pressure and density, etc.), it is generally accepted as a good approximation that the speed of sound is 1,125 feet per second at room temperature. That’s the same as 768 miles per hour, 1,235 kilometers per hour, 1 mile every 5 seconds, or 1 millisecond (ms) per foot.

But as people who are concerned about recording audio in our home studios, or doing live sound work, it’s the 1 millisecond per foot number that is most useful to us. How is it useful? Well, when we know that 1 foot = 1 millisecond, we can apply delays on certain sounds in our recording projects to correct for timing issues, especially when using multiple microphones on a single source.

An Example of The Speed of Sound In The Studio

For example, a lead guitar in a rock song needs to be very clear and “up-front,” but it also needs to sound huge. You can get the clarity and up-front part simply by placing a microphone very close to the amplifier grill – like just an inch or two.

Over the years it has become pretty standard to use a dynamic mic like the Shure SM57 for this. But that won’t give you the large/huge sound that you want. For that you need a far-away mic, something placed about 10-15 feet away. At that distance a large diaphragm condenser mic would work well. An AKG C214 would work well for this due to its ability to withstand loud sound signals.

Speed-Of-Sound In Audio Recording

So now you have 2 microphones recording a single sound, the electric guitar. But one of the 2 mics is 10 or 15 feet further away, and the sound will reach them at different times.

Blending the sound from both mics will reduce or eliminate the clarity and attack of the guitar that we need because of the delay of the sound going into the far-away mic.

But armed with our new-found knowledge about the speed of sound, we can compensate for the delay by simply adding some delay to the close mic. In the studio you can use a delay effect in your recording software/DAW (such as Reaper or Pro Tools). If recording live, or otherwise using outboard gear, you can use a hardware delay unit such as the TC Electronic D-Two.

How much delay do we need? Let’s go back to our speed-of-sound number – 1 millisecond = 1 foot. So if the far-away mic was 10 feet away, we add 10 milliseconds to the close-up mic to compensate for the distance difference in the mics. Now we have both a clear AND a large-sounding lead guitar sound!

See? Now you know how Felix Baumgartner breaking the sound barrier relates to recording audio. You’ll find other uses for this knowledge as you do more and more recording or live sound.

0 comments on “Felix Broke The Sound Barrier In His Sky Dive – But What Does That Mean?”

Ken, great information and I love the way you tied it into the news of the day! I now have some ideas on miking a GTR amp I did not think of before.
Thanks and keep up the good work!

Thanks Allen! It was actually my wife’s idea;). I’m glad it was helpful. Say hi to Sheri for me!

Source https://www.nbcdfw.com/news/national-international/natl-skydiver-hopes-to-break-sound-barrier-on-sunday/1935193/

Source https://www.homebrewaudio.com/12136/felix-broke-the-sound-barrier-in-his-sky-dive-but-what-does-that-mean/

Source https://www.homebrewaudio.com/12136/felix-broke-the-sound-barrier-in-his-sky-dive-but-what-does-that-mean/#:~:text=Felix%20Baumgartner%20broke%20a%20bunch%20of%20records%20in,does%20it%20mean%20to%20%22break%20the%20sound%20barrier?%22

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