Space Dive

By John Kessel | Sept. 12, 2013, 4:01 p.m. (ET)

Citius, Altius, Fortius – what a great movie about testing your own limits.

As Felix Baumgartner broke the world record for a free fall jump from higher than 120,000 feet in space—becoming the first person to free fall while breaking the sound barrier—the National Geographic Channel and BBC used more than 20 cameras to capture the four year process. He went from elite BASE jumper to a pressure suited test pilot who really was an astronaut.  I caught this movie in flight on the way back from our clinics in Italy and was mesmerized. Seeing his confidence ebb and flo  - (sidebar having just done summer camps and taught the Italians minute mysteries, here is one…Ebb and Flo are lying dead in a puddle of water, how did they die?) – and is struggles with his lack of pressure suit experience and how to use it - in flight (think specificity…).  

To jump from over 24 miles up, over Roswell, NM no less as the “aliens” appreciated it, and deal with the risks of breaking the sound barrier in just a pressure suit, risk of leaks which would make your blood boil, and the spins that come from just a small bit of being out of synch…amazing.

The team behind the team was huge, and the one year project ballooned to four years and many, many more millions of dollars than expected for Red Bull, who did not pull the plug. The aborted takeoff and loss of one of just two helium balloons for the flight, it was just a remarkable film worth sharing with your team at the start of their season around popcorn and discussion about the struggles.

I especially liked that the guy Joe Kittinger, who did it over 40 years prior (in 1960) from over 100,000 feet, but who did not break the sound barrier, was both mentor and leader in the project.  That National Geographic was there also to film that event, and shares it also on the website link below, is why I would have loved to work for them – my dream job other than this one working with all of you through USA Volleyball.

 Watch the whole ascent and dive itself, complete with constant views of the horizon becoming more of a curve as well as the temperature and altitude changes second by second at this link - except for the section where he uses the code “Rainforest” (I am taking a leak) and dealing with his worries of an unheated/improperly heated helmet visor which would have to abort the jump

Soon I will be updating my list of movies to share with a team in a season, the one I used with our 2004 USA Paralympic teams, including our bronze medal winning women’s sitting team that I was team leader for.  Happy to email my hand out from 2004 if you need it before I post the updates from the last 10 years  – just email me at