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Skydiver Crosses English Channel

August 01, 2003|From Times Wire Services

LONDON — An Austrian stuntman on Thursday became the first person to skydive across the English Channel, gliding on carbon fiber wings at up to 217 mph.

Felix Baumgartner jumped out of a plane about 30,000 feet above Dover, England, and parachuted into hills 21 miles away above Calais, France, 14 minutes later, spokeswoman Sarah Christofi said.

"It's pretty cold up there. I still can feel nothing," Baumgartner said after landing.

He started parachuting as a teenager before taking up the extreme sport of base jumping.

Baumgartner, 34, set world records for the highest and lowest parachute dives in 1999 with daredevil jumps from the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, and the statue of Christ in Rio de Janeiro.

Setting off early Thursday morning to avoid commercial flights, Baumgartner used oxygen supplies to survive the thin air.

The special wing with a span of nearly 6 feet is made of the same special lightweight carbon composite used in Formula One racing cars.

Clouds obscured Baumgartner's vision, forcing him to follow two lead planes as he glided through the sky in an aerodynamic suit equipped with cameras and monitoring equipment.

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