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BASE article in GQ magazine, February 2004 issue

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This new BASE-related article was recently brought to my attention :

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GQ Action

This month Felix Baumgartner defies mortality, gravity (and sanity) with his avian antics.

Falling angel
Jumping off the tallest building in the world and Rio's Christo Redentor are just two of the feats completed by daredevil base jumper Felix Baumgartner.

High above Rio de Janeiro, in December 1999, base jumper Felix Baumgartner found himself perched on the famous Christo Redentor statue, waiting for the wind to drop so he could jump off the top. The ground was only 95ft below. He hadn't bothered with an emergency parachute. The distance was so short that if his first one didn't open then he was dead anyway. "I was standing on Jesus' arm. I turned and saw his face," the Austrian daredevil recalls. "He was looking at me and I said, 'Please let me do this perfectly. Please don't let me die.'" When the wind was just right, Baumgartner said another little prayer and stepped off the edge. He immediately released his parachute, touched down on the ground and then sprinted to a waiting getaway car. In Brazil, as in most countries around the world, base jumping from man-made structures is illegal.

If you've missed many of Baumgartner's illegal stunts, you may remember him for a legal swan dive he did this summer. He was the headcase who jumped out of an aeeroplane 30,000ft above the white cliffs of Dover with a wing strapped to his back, glided at speeds of up to 230mph across the English Channel and then, six minutes later, parachuted down onto the French coast. He was so high up that he needed extra oxygen to remain conscious. The cameraman filming him from a nearby plane passed out through lack of it.

Baumgartner's sponsor is Red Bull ("Red Bull gives you wings!" Geddit?), who has arranged for me to meet the man at London's Oxo Tower. I spot him from afar. He's three feet off the ground, standing on top of a traffic bollard and talking animatedly into his mobile phone. It seems as though this man is never content just to be standing on terra firma.

Baumgartner has carried out some fairly hairy exploits in his time. As well as the Rio jump and the rather unorthodox Channel crossing, he has also launched himself off the 9,850ft Sxxx Pxxx mountain in Italy. Earlier this year, with his wing strapped to his back, he won a five-mile race over Utah against a 500-horsepower aeroplane. And in April 1999, he jumped off the Towers in KL. At 1,479ft, it's the tallest building in the world.

His next deranged plan is to leap from a hot air balloon without a parachute. If all goes to plan he'll then fly towards another jumper - one who's remembered to wear a parachute - hook up with him and, with any luck, land safely on the ground. "Like in the James Bond film," grins Baumgartner, "only this is the real thing."

The "base" of base jumping is an acronym for Building, Antenna, Span (bridges) and Earth (cliffs). To register with the American BASE Association, you need to have jumped from all four. Baumgartner's personal registration number is 502, which he has tattooed across his back. " I was the 502nd person to register with the association," he says proudly. "That's my number. If I die I'll always be 502."

As we talk, I point up to the top of the Oxo Tower and ask Baumgartner if he would consider leaping from it. He ruminates for a few seconds and the comes to the conclusion that it's too low for a freefall jump. "That's a pilot chute-assistend building," he says with disdain. "It's not the real thing." Pilot chute-assisted jumps involve attaching a line to your starting point so that your parachute opens automatically. For hardcore base jumpers, the drops that require you to release the parachute yourself while in freefall are the real challenge.

Baumgartner has a wish-list of all the other adventures he would like to undertake. "The balloon jump is one," he says. "Then I want to drive the 24-hour Le Mans race. I also want to finish getting my private pilot licence so I can fly helicopters. Flying to the moon would be great, too, but that's too expensive."

Born and brought up in the Austrian Alps, Baumgartner first felt the need to be airborne at the age of 16, when he first tried skydiving, before going on to train at the Austrian military parachute school. Now, after 18 years' experience, he earns a living by doing stunts for films, commercials and photo shoots, selling footage to TV networks, making after-dinner speeches and by being rewarded handsomely by his sponsors to risk his neck.

Baumgartner says there's a lot of pressure on his shoulders to keep coming up with new stunts. "It's not easy to make your money by risking your life the whole time. you always know that if something goes wrong, you're dead. I've now got a good name in the base jumping scene so I always have to be the top guy with the best stunts."

It's at parties that Baumgartner and his friends come up with the best ideas. "Sometimes people come up to me when I'm drunk and say, 'Hey, why don't you do this? or this?' Most of the time we just talk bullshit, but out of ten bad ideas, there's often one idea that has potential. Some of life's best ideas come when you're drunk."

For Baumgartner, the motivation to throw himself off a skyscraper or a mountain comes not from some innate desire to feel the adrenalin coursing through his veins, but rather because he adores the challenge. "I always want to be the first person to do something," he explains. "When we jump off buildings, those buildings are trophies for us. The more well-known the building, the bigger the value of the trophy."

Most of the buildings Baumgartner chooses for his jumps have restricted access. And after 11 September, they are all crawling with security guards. To complete a stunt, Baumgartner will inevitably have to break the law. "When I jumped off the Towers in KL, I didn't know what to expect. I had to find five different ways to go in, to go up and to come out. I had to carry my parachute and camera in a briefcase. I had to have fake ID. I had to bring money in case there were window cleaners at the top. I had to be ready for the security guys. And after my jump, I had to have a driver to take me away. Sometimes we put the wrong nubmerplates on the car so the police don't find us. These are the challenges I face."

But death is always at the back of Baumgartner's mind; which is not surprising when you consider that since 1978, when the sport officially started, over 70 base jumpers have died pursuing their hobby - mostly by leaping from cliffs. Baumgartner's biggest fear is that he injures himself so badly that he becomes paralysed. "I'd rather die than be in a wheelchair. I would be so frustrated if I couldn't do my stunts," he says. "I don't want to die, but dying is part of the game. There is always the possibility of being killed on a jump. It doesn't matter if it's an easy one or a difficult one."

This stoicism is supported by Baumgartner's belief in reincarnation. he's convinced that after we die we return in the body of another person or another animal. No prizes for guessing which animal Baumgartner would like to come back as. "I want to come back as a bird," he says, his eyes lighting up. "That would be cool. But it would have to be a fast bird with a lot of flying skills. Sometimes when I'm on top of a mountain waiting for the wind to die down, I watch the birds. I always get jealous when I see them flying fast, moving around, changing direction, flying with other birds. I think how much I have to do just to get a little feeling of flying. I spend three years building a wing, there's loads of money involved, I go up in a plane and then I fly across the Channel for six minutes. It's kind of flying, but it's not real flying. And then you see the bird just sitting there. He steps off the cliff and he just flies away."

Dominic Bliss GQ

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If I wasn't still drunk from last night's illegal PCA jump (you know, the one where I used my fake ID, paid off the window washers, and then slapped on my fake license plates to lose the cops), then I would have really enjoyed this story.;)
(c)2010 Vertical Visions. No unauthorized duplication permitted. <==For the media only

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If I wasn't still drunk from last night's illegal PCA jump

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"That's a pilot chute-assistend building," he says with disdain. "It's not the real thing."



Sorry man, those don't count. :D

(which means by his logic his Jesus jump wasn't the real thing either. ;)).

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Baumgartner says there's a lot of pressure on his shoulders to keep coming up with new stunts. "It's not easy to make your money by risking your life the whole time. you always know that if something goes wrong, you're dead. I've now got a good name in the base jumping scene so I always have to be the top guy with the best stunts."



FELIX.. ha ha you never read any of the boards:ph34r::D

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For hardcore base jumpers, the drops that require you to release the parachute yourself while in freefall are the real challenge.



I agree whith Felix.. slider ups ARE dangerus,I will one day be a hardcore jumper and get more than the 1 slider up/stowed jump i have:ph34r::D

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There is always the possibility of being killed on a jump. It doesn't matter if it's an easy one or a difficult one."



damnit im a lowis jumper,never to be hardcore,getting a great sponsor as Felix and i might die of it?>:(

Felix your way fun,thanks for cheering up the world BASE by showing things like this:ph34r::D

only to ask Felix Q´s considdering to be a "hardcore"jumper

Stay safe
Stefan Faber

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For Baumgartner, the motivation to throw himself off a skyscraper or a mountain comes not from some innate desire to feel the adrenalin coursing through his veins, but rather because he adores the challenge publicity.



Everyone seems to have missed this glaring typo. :)
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Sometimes people come up to me when I'm drunk and say, 'Hey, why don't you do this *blow your fucking brains out*? or this *forget to pull*?



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No prizes for guessing which animal Baumgartner would like to come back as



A prancing unicorn ?

Great article Will, i don't think felix could have wrote it any better himself. ;)

-- Hope you don't die. --

I'm fucking winning

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I'm actually at a loss for words harsh enough to address this. Perhaps we should each write a letter to GQ and set them straight about Felix and his exploits, such that they are.

Dear GQ,

As a BASE jumper (personal ID # 610) I feel the need to address your recent article, (personal advertisement and endorsement) on Felix "the pussy cat" Butt-gardener. Basically everything in the article is false, made up and over-stated to stroke the huge ego of a very tiny man.

Very little of what Felix has done is new and exciting, Nearly all that he does are the same jumps all of us BASE jumpers do. Unlike real BASE jumpers who jump only for the thrill and for personal fulfillment, Felix chooses to publisize his jumps for his ego.

Good examples of Felix's overstatements are of his supposed lowest jump (95' off Rio Christ), highest building jump (1479' in KL). The lowest jump was done 10 years before felix even knew what a parachute was, and it was 63'. The highest building jump was actually the KL Tower from 1100'. Felix jumped from about 800' off of the KL towers.

Felix decries PCA jumps as "Not a real jump", yet that was exactly what he did at Rio Christ. In fact, virtually every jump or stunt that Felix has done is un-impressive in every way, except to non-jumpers that are easily impressed by any jump related feat. Amongst his peers Felix is an ego driven twit who does not represent the BASE community in any way. He continually rides the coat tails of true pioneers and innovators, and steals and sells their glory for a happy meal and a fake gold medal.

Do yourself and you readers a favor and talk to a few of the hundreds of real base jumpers worldwide and do a little fact checking before you embarrass your magazine with self aggrandizing trash like this article.

BASE 610

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You know, a couple of years ago, I probably would have thought he was a god...but I don't share that sentiment with him anymore. Although he has done some cool things so far, his biggest accomplishment is definitely his ego.
So;
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"I want to come back as a bird," he says, his eyes lighting up. "That would be cool. But it would have to be a fast bird with a lot of flying skills.


let's just hope he'll come back as a chicken one day...

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Being new to the sport of BASE, I guess htis article helped me to figure out why it's so hard to get many jumps in. I thought it was just to friggin cold too jump this time of year. But now, thanks to Felix, I realize that I just don't drink enough...

Thanks Felix for making us look like a bunch of alcoholic lunatics.

So, who wants to get hammered and see if you can talk me into jumping off of something?

Ganja "Stopping by the liqour store tonight" Rodriguez

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Same shit - different day....
we will have to live with that.
last year, I tried to clean out an article in the german press. some "hero" story about felix, including his baffin island adventure and all the rest of his stunts.
the press wasn´t interessted in telling the truth, they live from such stupid stuff.
´nough said.
--------------------------------------------------

With sufficient thrust,
pigs just fly well

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***"It's not easy to make your money by risking your life the whole time. you always know that if something goes wrong, you're dead. I've now got a good name in the base jumping scene so I always have to be the top guy with the best stunts."

who said it was good? Yea or nay? "nay" the nay's have it
Leroy


..I knew I was an unwanted baby when I saw my bath toys were a toaster and a radio...

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His next deranged plan is to leap from a hot air balloon without a parachute. If all goes to plan he'll then fly towards another jumper - one who's remembered to wear a parachute - hook up with him and, with any luck, land safely on the ground. "Like in the James Bond film," grins Baumgartner, "only this is the real thing."

Rod Pack pulled this off before this fuck was even born. Shit like this gets me hot... the fucker might finally rid us all of himself once and for all.
"¯"`-._.-¯) ManBird (¯-._.-´"¯"

Click

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