Thrill seeker breaks speed of sound in freefall

AUSTRIAN thrill-seeker "Fearless" Felix Baumgartner has become the first skydiver to go faster than the speed of sound, reaching a top speed of 1,342km/h.

The 43-year-old broke the record for the highest ever freefall by jumping out of a balloon 39km above New Mexico overnight.

The BBC reported Mr Baumgartner almost aborted the dive because his helmet visor fogged up.

After floating skyward for more than two hours it took less than 10 minutes for him to fall to earth.

Only only the last few thousand feet were negotiated by parachute.

Once down, he fell to his knees and raised his fists in triumph. Helicopter recovery teams were on hand moments later.

"Let me tell you - when I was standing there on top of the world, you become so humble. You don't think about breaking records anymore, you don't think about gaining scientific data - the only thing that you want is to come back alive," he said afterwards at a media conference.

None of the new marks set by Baumgartner can be classed as "official" until endorsed by the Federation Aeronautique Internationale (FAI).

More than 7 million watched the live YouTube feed as Mr Baumgartner prepared for then embarked on his epic journey towards terra firma.

It was broadcast with a 20-second delay so controllers could cancel it in case tragedy struck.

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