31/07/2003

Austrian skydiver wings it to France

A former mechanic has become the first man to skydive across the English Channel.

Felix Baumgartner, a 34-year-old Austrian, leapt from a plane above Dover on the English coastline at 30,000 ft and plummeted towards Calais at an average speed of 135mph.

Using a six-foot carbon fibre wing strapped to his back, an oxygen tank from which to breathe, and a parachute to land, Baumgartner arrived at his French destination just 14 minutes later.

He described his experience as "great" but promised onlookers and waiting media that he had an even bigger project waiting to complete.

Baumgartner's skydive across the English Channel is just one of a long line of daring feats attempted by the Austrian. He has already jumped from the statue of Christ in Rio de Janeiro and the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur - the tallest buildings in the world.

(MB)

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