Where This Meets That
This week, daredevil skydiver Felix Baumgartner stood on a platform twenty-four miles over Roswell, New Mexico. He looked at the curved horizon of Earth, then jumped. After nearly four minutes of free fall, during which he said felt like 30 minutes, his chute opened and undoubtedly gave him his first moments of truly thinking, “Wow! I’m really going to be alive to remember this!”
In honor of Baumgartner’s balls, today’s Friday Five salutes some of the most extreme trips ever traveled.
1) Felix Baumgartner, broke sound barrier outside of a vehicle with a 24-mile skydive
2) Neil Armstrong, first person to walk on the moon
An American hero whose death on this past August 25 returned him to the national spotlight. On July 21, 1969, Armstrong took his famous “one small step for [a] man, one giant leap for mankind” and placed our species on extraterrestrial ground for the first time. Some ten-thousand times more distant than Baumgartner’s big leap, Armstrong saw a beautiful blue Earth where the moon should have been. Heady stuff, man.
3) Alexey Leonov, first person to walk in space
Four years prior to Armstrong’s “giant leap”, this Soviet cosmonaut became the first person to set foot outside a craft into space. Leonov spent some twelve minutes at the end of a 5-meter leash and found his suit too inflated to allow him to fit back into the airlock. He used a valve to deflate just enough to permit re-entry to his spacecraft. I can’t begin to imagine the feeling of actually being in space, much less having to think practically while there.
4) Edmund Hillary and Tenzing Norgay, first people to reach the “top of the world” (and live to tell about it)
Even with today’s equipment, surviving a climb to the top of Mount Everest requires elite skills and even then a little luck. The bodies of perhaps hundreds of failed challengers that lie still preserved along the path attest to that. Hillary and Norgay did it in 1953. After seven weeks of climbing and finally reaching the summit, Hillary reached out his hand to shake Tenzing’s, and Tenzing hugged him instead. Fifteen minutes later, the two began the long return descent due to limited oxygen supply.
5) Meriwether Lewis and William Clark, first people to document a “road trip” across the present-day U.S. to the Pacific coast
In all, they traveled nearly eight-thousand miles by river from present-day Indiana to present-day Oregon. Imagine the rush of white water, the ruggedness of the Rockies, the lushness of vegetation, and the interaction with unknown tribes while traversing an unknown country with the eyes of settlers.
I just completed a four mile mix of walking and running this week. These people’s accomplishments amaze me.
Have a great weekend, Everyone!