"Our guardian angel will take care of you now."
FELIX BAUMGARTNER has never had a problem with heights. Jumping off buildings and bridges were no problem, traversing the English Channel in a carbon-fibre wing was a lark.
But staying calm inside a pressurized suit and helmet built to withstand extraordinary speeds and altitudes - that was a test.
The 43-year-old Austrian former paratrooper had panic attacks when forced to endure hours inside the protective equipment. At one point in 2010 he fled to the airport and left the US rather than take a pressure suit-bound endurance test.
So when he set out to make the fastest and highest skydive in history, it was the man whose records he was attempting to break who helped ensure his claustrophobia did not return.
Joseph Kittinger, an 84-year-old retired Air Force fighter pilot who survived a jump from 31 kilometres above the Earth more than half a century ago, provided the reassuring voice from mission control that guided Baumgartner through his journey to the edge of space.
Read more at the Sydney Morning Herald and see Florida Trend's Florida Icon Profile of Kittinger.