A free fall even Tom Petty wouldn’t endorse

I wanna glide down, over Mulholland
I wanna write her, name in the sky
I wanna free fall, out into nothin’
Gonna leave this, world for a while
And I’m free, free fallin’…

Skydiving is something that has yet to appeal to me. I say “yet” because it is possible that at some point in my life, I may grow a pair and decide to take the leap — pun absolutely intended.

I’ve never been somebody who looks for cheap thrills. Things like roller coasters, cliff diving and sky diving have never been something I thought about and said, “I need to do that.” In fact, if I never do those three things for the rest of my life, I don’t think I would really care.

I always wondered why so many young people make it such a high priority to go sky diving. It’s like everyone thinks the world is going to end soon, and they need to scratch sky diving off of their bucket list as soon as possible. Almost every other week I feel like I see somebody post photos on Facebook of them skydiving. I’ll admit, that angle where you manage to get a photograph of yourself just after exiting the plane, looking excited yet scared shitless, while some random dude hangs from behind you — that’s pretty cool.

If I could somehow get that picture taken without doing the skydiving, I might sign up for that.

So I’ll gladly give credit to anyone who does go skydiving, because you’re clearly a lot more braver than I am. That being said, nobody — and I don’t care how many times you’ve skydived before –, nobody is braver than Felix Baumgartner.

Who is Felix Baumgartner? He’s a 43-year-old man from Austria. He probably likes dogs. I mean, who doesn’t? I’m sure he also eats pizza on occasion. Oh yeah, and this weekend he’s going to skydive from 120,000 feet.

120,000 feet. That is approximately 23 miles above the earth. That’s almost a full marathon… up.

The project is titled Red Bull Stratos, and it has been in the works since 2010. The jump was actually scheduled to occur on Tuesday, but it had to be scrapped due to strong winds. That is, stronger winds than you’d usually expect at an altitude of 120,000 feet.

The plan is for Baumgartner to ascend in a 2,900 pound capsule attached to a helium balloon. The ascent will begin in Roswell, New Mexico, and will take two hours to complete. He will be wearing a custom-made full pressure suit to protect him from the dangerous pressures at such heights that would otherwise kill him if he had no suit.

If  successful, Baumgartner would set world records for the highest manned balloon flight, the highest altitude jump and the longest time spent in free fall. In the free fall, he’d be traveling at Mach 1 — making him the first human being to ever break the sound barrier without the use of a vehicle. And I also can’t forget that he’s setting one more record, and that is the biggest cojones ever known to mankind.

After the recent cancellation, the soonest this could occur is Sunday, Oct. 14, if the weather allows.

So that is all the facts laid out for you. What is my reaction?

*Gets out of his seat and begins clapping*

I’m afraid to jump off the high-dive at my public swimming pool. I get shivers just looking at photos of hot air balloons. I thought the movie “Up” was a horror movie the first time I saw it.

And yet, this man, who shares the first name with a fictional cat, is going to be skydiving from the earth’s stratosphere. HE’S NOT EVEN GOING TO BE IN THE SAME ATMOSPHERE AS US. As you all know, we live in the atmosphere closest to the earth’s surface, the troposphere, and then there’s the stratosphere and the mesosphere, and if you travel far enough you’ll eventually find yourself in the homosphere. No homo.

Just think for a second. If you wake up on Sunday, and discover that it is really rainy and windy outside, you might think to yourself, “Aww man, I can’t go to the park today,” or “Aww man, I wanted to go to the mall today but now I don’t feel like going outside!”

Well Baumgartner will wake up on Sunday, see the same inclement weather and say, “Aww man, I guess I can’t travel into the next layer of our planet’s atmosphere today.” Italicized for emphasis.

The crazy thing is that the 120,000-foot free fall is only expected to take about five and a half minutes. That’s barely even a commercial break. I spend more time in the bathroom than Baumgartner will spend on his descent.

And what’s the best part about all of this? Not only do we get to just know that it is happening, but we can watch it live — right here. What more can you ask for?

I almost want to watch it from the lowest depth possible. I want to watch the jump from a man-made hole, or a fall-out shelter, or from the Underground Railroad.

In all seriousness though, I really hope it goes well. Baumgartner has already successfully completed two “practice jumps” from 71,000 feet and 96,000 feet, so he is definitely prepared. Regardless, no one wants to die on live television. But if it does go that route, we all know FoxNews will have no problem airing it!

So if you’re not doing anything on Sunday, and if this jump does happen, I suggest you watch. You may just see history in the making.

Besides, I know one person who will definitely be watching. This guy:

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