How claustrophobia almost grounded supersonic skydiver

Updated 7:00 PM EDT, Sun October 14, 2012

Story highlights

Felix Baumgartner has made more than 2,500 skydiving jumps

"Fear has become a friend of mine," he said

Baumgartner wore a pressured suit for a record-breaking jump, adding claustrophobia

(Wired) —  

Of all the things Felix Baumgartner had to worry about while pursuing his dream of skydiving from 120,000 feet, the one that almost stopped him cold was …

Claustrophobia.

“Fearless Felix” got a bit freaked out by the pressurized suit he’ll wear during his ascent and, more importantly, his supersonic descent from 23 miles up – now tentatively scheduled for Sunday or Monday. Getting over his discomfort was a key hurdle to clear as the Austrian adventurer set out to make the highest skydive ever.

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To that end, Red Bull, his sponsor, called in Dr. Michael Gervais. He’s a sports psychologist who specializes in high-performance and “extreme” sports like, say, falling out of the sky at the speed of sound. Red Bull wanted him to psychologically evaluate Baumgartner and help him conquer his fear.

It must be said that Baumgartner is no stranger to fear or death-defying situations. The 43-year-old former military parachutist has made more than 2,500 jumps, including dives from the Petronas Towers and the Taipei 101 skyscraper. Clearly he has learned how to put aside fear, even use it to his advantage.