To conquer his fear of heights, Marc Hauser jumped into the jet stream

Meet the real-life flying superhero, who also happens to have a fear of heights. Swiss adventurer Marc Hauser is the first person to skydive into the jet stream, according to Guinness World Records.

Posted: Apr 13, 2020 9:10 PM
Updated: Apr 13, 2020 9:10 PM

Afraid of heights, Marc Hauser came up with his own "shock therapy" -- skydiving.

Dubbed the "Jet Stream Superman," Swiss adventurer Hauser is the first person to skydive into the jet stream, a feat which was officially recognized by Guinness World Records last month.

But he wasn't only intent on conquering his fear of heights. Hauser wanted to raise awareness about what he says is the untapped, clean energy potential of the jet stream, a high-altitude air current in the atmosphere.

"So I just jump with a kind of fear," Hauser told CNN Sport as he confessed that he's only been successful in "managing" how he feels about heights.

"I'm still scared of it. I think you should be scared if you jump out of a plane anyway. So it's a good thing. And I think it's protecting me. I'm absolutely fine with being a bit scared and terrified."

READ: In a world gripped by fear, marble racing proves welcome distraction

Entry level

Before he performed his free fall jump into the jet stream in Australia in 2018, Hauser was already an unofficial record holder for the fastest horizontal speed without additional gear, reaching a top speed of 188.9 mph in 2012.

Although it has not, he says, been "ratified yet" by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), Hauser's record has been validated by their most experienced GPS specialist, Brian Utley.

While many elite athletes are conscious of putting on weight, the opposite is true of the six foot seven-inch Swiss, who decided to take on more adventurous pursuits after going on a skydiving course in Spain aged 19.

"I really had to gain weight. I really had to become heavier because the heavier you are, the more free fall acceleration you get," the 47-year-old said.

Through a combination of "good healthy food and some not so healthy -- a couple of beers," Hauser managed to put on the 12 kilograms he required to reach his ideal weight. Since then, he has maintained his weight of 110kg.

"It's like when you're on a bike, and if you drive downhill, then you lose against the fat guy."

READ: As well as breaking records 'Queen of Speed' is standing up to bullies

'Superhero syndrome'

Hauser quickly discovered he was in a league of his own when it came to skydiving.

"I didn't have any class because my suit has no wings. And so, my definition was I was 'flying with zero wingsuit.' And I was ranked number one," he said.

To his surprise, he began to fall down the rankings because officials started taking tailwinds into account, which is where the idea to jump into the jet stream came from. "I said, 'Okay, let's take the best tailwind you can find,'" recalls Hauser.

Jet streams are defined as "narrow bands of strong wind in the upper levels of the atmosphere" by the USA's National Weather Service.

Usually located four to eight miles above ground level, winds can surpass 275 mph and temperatures can sink to as low as minus 40 degrees Celsius.

"To combine kind of a superman stunt with a higher cause, I have this kind of superhero syndrome," reflects the Bern native. "So I would like to fly without wings and at the same time, I would like to save the planet."

With the help of director and filmmaker Claudio von Planta, Hauser's jump was immortalized in an award-winning documentary "Chasing the Jet Stream."

READ: After Tokyo 2020 postponement, money has become a real worry for Olympian

Putting his body on the line

While Hauser's body has been through a lot -- he's had six operations on his right knee -- jumping into the jet stream pushed him to the limit.

He underwent strenuous training, including experiencing minus 60 degrees Celsius temperatures, trialing a previously untested breathing apparatus and high-altitude training.

And while the physical strain he put his body through was "challenging," it was the mental aspect of his preparation that really tested Hauser.

"Mentally, it was really, really hard to keep the team together, to find the good weather window, to find the shoestring budget we ended up with at the end," said Hauser, who also works as a keynote speaker.

"But I was really the one guy who had to push in front of the whole team. And I really learned a lot about leadership because we didn't have the money to pay the team. So all the guys, they were working just for free and it was absolutely mind blowing."

READ: Experts warn lockdown could come at 'psychological cost' to footballers

A bumpy ride

Having already had to move the jump from Switzerland to Australia, Hauser's team spent two weeks chasing the perfect location like a "tornado-chasing team."

He was assisted by hot air balloon pilot, Steve Griffin, and skydiver, Tom Naef, and after climbing to 7,000m, the problems began.

The drop in temperature meant the oxygen regulators for Griffin and Naef froze open. It was so cold the hot air burners also froze, extinguishing the balloon's flame.

While Hauser had anticipated complications, the number of problems "put a bit of a rush" on his exit, he said, meaning he jumped from a lower altitude than he had hoped for.

That meant Hauser failed to break his own speed record but, with hindsight, he describes breaking his own record as a "silly thing anyway."

"I'm still the record holder of non-supported flight over ground without tailwind. But I'm sure you can be way faster than I was," he said.

Although he was terrified for the safety of the two remaining passengers in the balloon, Hauser managed to complete the skydive.

Proving his point

Etching his name into the record books was one of his aims, but Hauser's primary focus was to shine a light on the jet stream's potential to provide a source of sustainable energy.

"It's just in the beginning. There are about a dozen start-ups worldwide and they are really at the edge in jumping into the market," he said.

But to take high-altitude wind farming to the next level, the industry needs a "couple of pioneers with deep pockets."

"They are all at the same point where they're now really needing substantial finance to go to the next level and to build these things for the markets and to bring the prices down," he said.

"Because now they're working on prototypes, they are flying that proof of concept. But for the next step, they all have the same problem. They need substantial funding, and that's what they are all looking for.

Visit CNN.com/sport for more news, features, and videos

"This is a solution, I think, which is not really well known. I think most people, they just know the winter mills and with that comes the wind energy. And the high-altitude wind power is just a new phenomenon to most of us."

Indiana Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 48626

Reported Deaths: 2717
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Marion11723689
Lake5212244
Elkhart332051
Allen2815132
St. Joseph198168
Cass16399
Hamilton1596101
Hendricks1414100
Johnson1288117
Porter73637
Tippecanoe7279
Madison66364
Clark66044
Bartholomew58944
Howard58057
LaPorte57926
Vanderburgh5706
Kosciusko5564
Marshall4926
Noble48428
Jackson4723
LaGrange4719
Delaware45050
Boone44943
Hancock44935
Shelby43025
Floyd38244
Morgan32931
Monroe30128
Montgomery29720
Grant29526
Clinton2892
Dubois2836
Henry28016
White26510
Decatur25532
Lawrence24625
Vigo2368
Dearborn23323
Warrick22129
Harrison21622
Greene19032
Miami1842
Jennings17612
Putnam1708
DeKalb1634
Scott1628
Daviess14717
Wayne1426
Orange13523
Perry1359
Steuben1302
Franklin1268
Ripley1227
Jasper1212
Wabash1132
Carroll1102
Fayette1017
Newton9910
Whitley965
Starke933
Gibson872
Randolph804
Huntington782
Wells751
Jefferson722
Fulton711
Jay680
Washington671
Pulaski661
Knox640
Clay604
Rush583
Adams501
Owen491
Benton480
Sullivan451
Posey440
Spencer411
Blackford392
Brown391
Crawford320
Fountain322
Tipton311
Switzerland270
Martin230
Parke230
Ohio170
Vermillion140
Warren141
Union130
Pike110
Unassigned0193

Ohio Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 58904

Reported Deaths: 2970
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Franklin10587431
Cuyahoga8048379
Hamilton6158204
Lucas2788303
Marion273439
Pickaway220141
Summit2175207
Montgomery213431
Mahoning1849238
Butler163747
Columbiana130660
Stark1133113
Lorain105167
Trumbull97473
Warren88124
Clark7729
Delaware58815
Fairfield58516
Tuscarawas56810
Belmont55422
Medina53632
Lake50819
Licking49612
Miami47231
Portage44959
Ashtabula43644
Wood43651
Clermont4226
Geauga40843
Wayne36352
Richland3475
Allen32341
Mercer2879
Greene2769
Darke25326
Erie24622
Holmes2393
Huron2232
Madison1999
Ottawa15024
Sandusky13714
Crawford1365
Washington13520
Ross1303
Putnam12915
Coshocton1272
Hardin12312
Morrow1171
Auglaize1074
Jefferson912
Monroe8917
Union891
Muskingum861
Hancock791
Hocking788
Preble781
Guernsey743
Lawrence720
Williams722
Shelby694
Clinton680
Logan641
Athens631
Fulton620
Ashland601
Carroll593
Wyandot595
Brown581
Knox521
Defiance513
Fayette460
Highland451
Scioto450
Champaign411
Van Wert380
Perry351
Seneca342
Henry300
Paulding260
Adams241
Jackson240
Pike240
Vinton222
Gallia181
Harrison121
Meigs120
Morgan110
Noble110
Unassigned00
Fort Wayne
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 90°
Angola
Clear
84° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 70°
Feels Like: 88°
Huntington
Clear
83° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 87°
Decatur
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 91° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 86°
Van Wert
Clear
82° wxIcon
Hi: 92° Lo: 71°
Feels Like: 86°
Hot Wednesday
WFFT Radar
WFFT Temperatures
WFFT National

Community Events