My bucket list is pretty comprehensive. I want to go to Antarctica and march with the penguins. I want to visit Tanzania and go on a safari. I want to see the Great Wall of China and the terra cotta warriors. I also wouldn’t mind skydiving. While terrifying, I think it would be a great thrill.
And for what? To be able to say he was the first man to do it? Chuck Yeager took a risk when he flew “Glamorous Glennis” in 1947 to break the sound barrier for the first time. Was it a risk? Sure. But it was a controlled risk, using the best technology of that age.
With the advent of engineering simulation technology, is a risk like Baumgartner’s acceptable? Why endanger yourself on something so seemingly random without doing everything possible to mitigate the myriad risks?
“So many unknowns,” Baumgartner says in an AP article, “but we have solutions to survive.”
For his sake, I hope so. The jump will be broadcast live on the Internet. I, for one, won’t be watching. Maybe I’ll use the time to plan my trip to China…