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"It's really cold up there" concluded the first person to cross the English Channel by gliding

Felix Baumgartner jumped from a plane at an altitude of 9,000 meters above Great Britain and 14 minutes later landed in France

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"At first he was seen as a distant spot moving in the morning sky, occasionally popping out from among the clouds with the silhouette of his wings against the rising sun." This is how a BBC reporter described Felix Baumgartner yesterday, when he was on his way to become the first person to glide across the English Channel.

At 7:10 am (Israel time) the 34-year-old parachutist, known in the world of extreme sports, jumped from a plane at an altitude of 9,000 meters above Dover in the United Kingdom. 14 minutes later he landed near Calais in France. He wore an aerodynamic suit and special carbon fiber wings, and was equipped with a parachute and oxygen cylinders. The wings allowed him to hover for 35 km at an average speed of 220 km/h. He opened the parachute over the French coastline.

"It's really cold up there," he said upon landing, adding that he was exhausted. "It was an amazing experience," concluded Baumgartner, a mechanic by profession who named his operation "Icarus,"2 after the hero of Greek mythology. "It's a feeling of supreme freedom. It's perfect because you can see the sunrise right in front. You are all alone - just you, your gear, your wings and your skill. I like this".

He said that at the beginning of the flight several problems arose: a photographer who accompanied him passed out from lack of oxygen while still on the plane, shortly before the jump. In addition to that, after he jumped, his legs got tangled in the surfboard that was attached to them, and he had to break it into pieces. In the first stages, the cold was intense - about 40 degrees Celsius below zero - and a few clouds prevented him from seeing in which direction he was moving. "I didn't have a landmark because I was constantly hovering above the clouds," he said, "but in the last 2,000 meters I saw lights, and then I knew I would make it."

Baumgartner prepared for the operation for three years; Among other things, he tied himself to the roof of a speeding retirement car. The skills he acquired were required to be demonstrated at the moment of the jump. According to the BBC reporter who followed the operation, "he had to decide exactly when to jump. He said that a small mistake in the way he moves his body could deviate from the course and be very dangerous."

"This is the biggest mission I've done so far," said the Austrian - who had previously jumped from the statue of Christ on top of the mountain in Rio de Janeiro and from one of the Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia - "but there's something else in the plan, don't worry. It's a big secret, but it will be great."

The third thousand

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