Baumgartner soars into celebrity stratosphere

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iol scitech oct 29 space guy

AP

Austria's Felix Baumgartner talks during a press conference in Salzburg.

New York - Felix Baumgartner's historic skydive from the edge of space has earned the Austrian daredevil a place among the rich and famous in US society.

After breaking the sound barrier on his way to recording the highest and fastest skydive with a 39-kilometre, 1,342-kilometres-per-hour leap on October 14, Baumgartner has landed in the US celebrity scene.

Gossip magazines have been quick to latch on to the hunky 43-year-old's new-found fame, with comparisons now being drawn with his compatriot, movie star and former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Baumgartner is currently doing the US talkshow circuit. He has also become a new member of New York's exclusive nightlife scene, attracting autograph hunters and paparazzi alike.

The Austrian has now personally experienced what it is like to be a top celebrity, he wrote on his Facebook page after a New York media tour that included being on the talk show of Jimmy Fallon and meeting actor Gerard Butler.

“Baumgartner is now playing in the same league as a young Arnold Schwarzenegger when he presented his muscles in Los Angeles,” the German magazine Bunte wrote.

Celebrity gossip website TMZ.com, which usually follows the likes of Britney Spears or Kim Kardashian, has also begun tracking the skydiver's movements.

“Felix Baumgartner jumps into the NYC scene,” the website headlined on its front page, showing a picture of him entering a Manhattan club.

“Hunky daredevil Felix Baumgartner traded his space suit for hip downtown gear and hit up trendy NYC hotspot Sons of Essex on Monday,” wrote TMZ.com.

Star blogger Perez Hilton has also reported on Baumgartner, who appears to be enjoying all the adulation and attention. He published a picture of the article on his Facebook page, which is followed by more than 1.4 million fans.

United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon also met Baumgartner, describing him as “the most courageous person in the world.”

Baumgartner offered to teach the 68-year-old how to skydive, despite saying he was now officially retired from the daredevil business.

As for the former paratrooper's private life, his one-year relationship with former German Playmate of the Year Gitta Saxx ended in 2008. He has been together with current girlfriend Nicole Oettl for the past three years, and rumour has it that he is ready to start a family.

In the future, Baumgartner wants to work as a helicopter pilot in California and Austria, doing a public service rescuing people from mountains, he said. - Sapa-dpa

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