Google Exec Breaks Freefall Record with 135,890-Foot Jump

Alan Eustace steals record from daredevil Felix Baumgartner.

Alan Eustace Freefall

Alan Eustace Freefall

Jim Harris - J. Martin Harris Photography, Tucson, AZ

A little more than two years after daredevil Felix Baumgartner stunned the world with his record-breaking skydive from 128,000 feet — constituting the first time a human ever broke the sound barrier during freefall — Google executive Alan Eustace has successfully jumped from an even higher 135,890 feet.

The 57-year-old, who completed the feat in the early morning hours on Friday, reached a top speed of 822 mph, creating a small sonic boom that could be heard by observers below during his descent from 25 miles above the Earth. He made the trip up with the help of a large helium balloon, but did not use a capsule as Baumgartner did during his ascent to the edge of space.

Suspended below the balloon, Eustace wore a protective spacesuit designed by Paragon Space Development Corp. At nearly 136,000 feet, Eustace freed himself from the balloon through the use of a small explosive device and proceeded to make the four and a half minute freefall back to Earth. After deploying his parachute and gliding the rest of the way down, he landed nearly 70 miles away from his launch point.

"It was a wild, wild ride," Eustace told reporters. "I hugged on to the equipment module and tucked my legs and I held my heading."

For the past three years Eustace has been quietly planning the logistics of the jump with Paragon Space Development Corp., which provides environmental control systems for hazardous environments. Eustace turned down assistance offered by Google, as he reportedly didn't want to turn the skydive into a corporate exploit.

Get exclusive online content like this delivered straight to your inbox by signing up for our free enewsletter.

We welcome your comments on In order to maintain a respectful environment, we ask that all comments be on-topic, respectful and spam-free. All comments made here are public and may be republished by Flying.