On October 14, 2012, Austrian daredevil Felix Baumgartner stunned the world by breaking world records and setting another. He jumped from a gondola suspended from a massive helium balloon. This jump was from the incredible altitude of 128,000 feet (24 miles). It set a new record for the highest parachute jump.
Speed of Sound
In the process Baumgartner broke another record and set a third. He became the first man to ever break the sound barrier by simply freefalling, without the aid of an aircraft.
By traveling at a speed of 843.6 MPH, he made the fastest freefall in a parachute jump. Baumgartner achieved this speed by waiving the use of a drogue chute – typically used to stabilize the parachutist.
Already a celebrity among base jumpers and other daredevils, “Fearless Felix” catapulted to world-wide fame.
To prepare for this death defying feat Baumgartner assembled a team of scientists and engineers. He also personally coached by the original space jumper, USAF retired Colonel Joe Kittinger.
Baumgartner also secured the sponsorship of the Redbull energy drink corporation, who flipped the bill for the project and turned it into a mass media event. Fearless Felix had finally broken records originally set by Joe Kittinger, records which had stood for 52 years.
Therefore, you can understand the sense of shock I felt when I recently discovered that Fearless Felix’s own record for the highest parachute jump is already eclipsed.
That’s right. On October 24, 2014, a man by the name of Alan Eustace (doesn’t sound too formidable, does it?) made a space jump from an altitude of 135,890 feet (25.74 miles), breaking Baumgartner’s record by 7,000 feet.
He also broke the sound barrier – reaching a speed of 821 miles per hour in his freefall. However, because he used a drogue chute for stabilization, his speed was slightly slower than Fearless Felix’s.
What struck me most about Eustace’s record-breaking jump is the contrast between the two men and the publicity each generated.
Baumgartner was a dashing daredevil, who had parachuted thousands of times and had an immense following of admirers. Alan Eustace is a 57-year-old retired Google executive, a nerdy-looking computer scientist, who hadn’t demonstrated any qualifications for jumping from the edge of space.
In another contrast, Baumgartner jumped from a high-tech gondola, with a large team of scientists and engineers to back him up. Eustace didn’t even use a gondola, but simply was carried upward in his pressurized suit by a large helium balloon. Plus, he had only a hand full of technicians to support him.
Speed of Silence
The biggest contrast between the two events, however, was in the publicity. Baumgartner’s space jump was viewed by hundreds of millions. Eustace’s space jump was done in secret.
You know, most of us have had our fill of people who do everything for notoriety and to impress others. Oh, for more people who faithfully do their work from a sense of love, duty, and commitment to the cause! They are far too few.
Please, do not feel bad or dejected when your efforts and accomplishments are confined to secrecy, with little or no recognition and praise. The Scripture tells us that God sees and delights in the good deeds we do in secret. But He is sickened by the good works of people whose primary motivation is to be seen and praised by others. To such praise-hungry people, Jesus said to expect nothing from God in heaven. But for those who faithfully do their work in secret, an eternal reward awaits them in heaven (Matthew 6:1-6, 16-18).
Dear Father in heaven, though I am not much to look at and lack the personal charisma and charm that others display, I commit my humble tasks to You. Though no one else sees or knows the sacrifices I make behind the scenes on behalf of others, You see and You know. Therefore, please accept all that I do as a sacrifice of praise and thanksgiving to You. Amen