I’m so excited to introduce you to Marc Hauser.
As a child, this man dreamt of one day becoming a superhero!
Little did he know that years later his dreams would be fulfilled when he jumped out of a hot air balloon right into the jet stream to become the first person to skydive inside these high altitude winds in history – as verified by Guinness World Records!
This blog post is the first of a new series with people who managed to make their dreams a reality. If you like this kind of content, make sure to sign-up via email and stay tuned for more.
I love to meet up with inspiring people, have a chat, exchange ideas, ask questions and simply hear their stories, learn their lessons, and then share the lessons from those who made their dreams come true with you on my blog!
Going forward, I will share more inspirational stories of people who turned their dreams into reality and will call it “Dream Walkers”, because they are the true imagineers of life!
And now, get ready to meet the real-life flying superhero, Marc Hauser!
Dear Marc, thank you for taking the time to meet up and enjoy a beer together here in Bern!
Having heard about your story and how you make your somewhat “crazy” dreams like jumping into the jet stream happen, I got to admit I was deeply impressed and inspired and therefore so happy to have the opportunity to introduce you and your story to the readers of Financial Imagineer today!
Let’s skydive into Marc’s adventure of chasing the jet stream!
Explore the award movie here: Watch CHASING THE JET STREAM Online | Vimeo On Demand
When did you start to dream BIG?
Since I was a child, I was fascinated by defying gravity and doing the impossible. I grew up in a high-rise residential building close to Bern and remember how my mind was trying to convince me how amazing it would be to simply jump out of my window, be a superhero, and fly through the sky!
I wanted to fly like a bird, like a jet, like superman!
Luckily I’m afraid of heights and that’s why I’m still around today…
So, You’re afraid of heights but still jumped into the jet stream?
Well, it didn’t happen overnight, but yes, I had my obsession to fly, fly faster than anyone before, since I was a kid but knew I am a “super chicken”.
I’m a 2-meter-tall super chicken, you see?
And I don’t even believe in the concept of overcoming fears. More on this later!
I went about realizing my dream of flying step by step.
What motivated You to pursue Your dream?
I was always looking for new ways to push my boundaries, as well as pushing other people’s perceptions of what is possible.
When most people around me told me it was impossible to go into the jet stream I got truly motivated to learn more so I went on a discovery journey to learn and find out more by myself.
It usually motivates me to hear others say something is impossible.
How did You overcome Your fear?
As I got older, I realized that technology could help me experience my dream of flight.
That’s when I decided to make my dream a reality!
My boy’s dream [of flying] motivated me to find ways not just to conquer my fears, but to make them become a systemic part of my thinking.
While I’m still afraid of heights, I’ve managed to integrate my fears in a very special way:
My brain knows exactly that I’ll “do it anyways”, hence, it started to rationalize my fears which helped me to overcome fear whenever needed!
What was Your experience like?
I started flying with a glider. Then I learned to fly little planes as well, and at one point I figured it would be good to learn how to skydive, from a safety point of view in case something happened to the plane and I would need to bail-out on my small rescue-parachute.
I tricked my brain into believing it was making flying in a plane even more secure and there wouldn’t be too much of a difference if I left the safety of my plane behind and skydived with a parachute.
However, jumping out of an airplane still needed a whole shitton of courage.
But ohhh boy!
It was an incredible experience.
Then I experimented to switch from simply “free falling” to “free flying”, it was awesome.
And hey, this is how I accidentally found a way to experience flying and face my fears head on!
Are You no longer afraid of these jumps?
Confronting yourself with dangers opens your eyes to new solutions and new horizons.
Acting with fear is not getting rid of fear but including and embracing fear in your actions!
Managing risks and scientifically discovering new ground while testing boundaries are my dream come true!
Taking a jump from an airplane is one thing, but jumping inside the jet stream… how did You get this idea?
In 2012 I’ve established a 304km/h world speed record [horizontal speed/ ground speed] without tailwind on a skydive – there was no world record before!
That’s why I set the first one!
Then I got interested to learn how I could push this boundary further and somehow learned much more about the strongest winds on our planet: The jet stream!
And hey, I learned so much more about it than just whether or not I could be jumping into it…
What else did You learn about the jet stream?
If you’ve ever flown an intercontinental flight, you may have realized how traveling one way is much faster than the other way, if you’ve ever been on such a flight, you’ve traveled the jet stream yourself before!
The jet stream is a continuous ribbon of superfast winds that circles the northern and southern hemispheres of the world. Can you believe the jet stream contains roughly 20 times the energy needed for all of humanity?
After hearing this, the next logical question I wondered was why we don’t use this high-altitude wind power as a sustainable energy source?
It feels like such a massive missed opportunity.
This motivated me even further to explore and learn more as I wanted to help get attention on this subject by jumping into the jet stream!
Is it just a dream to harvest the jet stream?
To understand more about these winds, I had to explore and found kites were sent up there more than 100 years ago already. These kites were used by meteorological institutions to measure the higher atmosphere.
Harvesting the jet stream might not be impossible, it’s less science fiction than you might think!
In Switzerland alone, three start-ups are working on solving this problem already.
They are using kites and plan to install wind farms with kites on oceans to harvest the potential.
In a way, it’s just a matter of engineers, and economists agreeing on how to make it happen.
With the right investment and economies of scale, the potential could be tremendous, and hey, the energy source would be sustainable, green, and recurring.
The world’s energy problem could be solved “for good”.
If any of your readers are interested to explore, please let us know!
This is amazing, and what did You learn about jumping into the jet stream?
The most important things I’ve learned are that it’s risky, and cold, very, very cold! And I learned that it’s possible: If you are the first one to try something new like that you can’t ask someone if it’s actually feasible or if you will kill yourself…
I figured the safest way to ascent into such altitudes for a jump would be by hot air balloon and the biggest challenges will be the unpredictable weather, the cold, and low oxygen levels. Low oxygen levels can cause life-threatening hypoxia resulting in bothersome symptoms like confusion, restlessness, difficulty breathing, rapid heart rate, and bluish skin, and could end in death!
How did You go about making Your “Crazy Dream” happen nevertheless?
In essence, we prepared as professionally as you could imagine.
First I went looking for Stefan Zeberli, the world champion balloon pilot from Switzerland. He is highly experienced and his balloon systems are probably the most professional aviation hardware to ascent up to altitudes as high as commercial airplanes.
Second, I trained with Swiss military experts to experience how hypoxia at the heights of the jet stream feels and realized going up to jet stream altitudes without oxygen would rapidly end in death – so the jet stream could become a deathstream. We had to construct a suit and prototype oxygen supplies to be workable.
Don’t You have to be physically ready to sustain such extreme conditions?
Yes indeed, that’s why the next two steps included getting myself up to speed.
Third, I had to up my physical condition and went to train in the Swiss alps for this purpose. It doesn’t help that I’m suffering from knee problems as well, my cartilage is mashed. But this got covered in step four.
Fourth, I signed up for intensive parachute training with professional skydiving instructors. There I had to face my fears routinely, the training consisted of jumping, flying, and landing repeatedly. I learned that as long as I can walk away from a landing, it is considered a “good landing”!
In this step one of my sponsors and a filming professional joined for the first time as well.
And after all the intense training I improved my flying and landing skills tremendously.
Impressive, You’ve prepared Yourself for all eventualities in great detail!
Yes, and only once all the above was successfully done, we started to combine the moving puzzle parts and see how our idea will work under real conditions.
Fifth, we started testing jumping from our balloon in Switzerland from altitudes around 4,000 meters, halfway to the jet stream. The goal here was to practice jumping from the balloon. But our budget was so limited, I could only afford one single jump. Luckily no one ever asked me about the number of my balloon jump experiences…
Sixth was to test our self-developed oxygen supply system under real conditions in a cold chamber and temperatures as low as minus 50°C. It was very valuable that we got this tested on the ground as we realized the oxygen valve would instantly freeze up there… We had to enhance and protect our equipment further and work on the helmet as it would also fog up, then freeze and impact my vision.
I started joking about how much I love being exposed to extreme conditions and how much I loved this cold chamber…
What did Your loved ones think, say, and do when You embarked on Your journey?
I’m very blessed and appreciate how wonderful and important it is to have a supportive family like my own. They are my “ground control”, my anchor to keep me connected with the ground.
My partner supports my ideas and me constantly trying new stuff, for her being part of my adventures means being part of my life.
My adult daughters also take me as the adventurer I am. Whenever I’m obsessed with a new idea – and trust me – I can get so absorbed that I barely speak of anything else for a couple of months, they appreciate me explaining every aspect of my projects to them as it helps them be less afraid. They know I’m not a crazy guy and wouldn’t do something crazy without testing and considering the risks involved.
However, they are always looking forward to the moment when everything is accomplished and the idea has become reality. At that moment, I can release the tension and focus to getting back to being a normal human being.
Yes, despite all your preparations and precautionary measures, jumping into the jet stream remains very, very risky!
Indeed, for me, it’s paramount to prepare what can be prepared as detailed as possible. Hence, after our team, the hardware, and all equipment, the next pressing question was to understand how well we can forecast the best weather conditions for our jump.
So we went to find Ralph Rickli who helped us analyze jet streams from windspeeds, optimal altitudes, and air compositions. We learned that with the latest equipment jet streams can be predicted 3-4 days in advance with great detail and high accuracy.
But we had to be patient, very very patient!
We had to be patient and wait for the perfect conditions:
In December it looked like a new world record was within reach as the weather gods showed jet streams with over 200km/h over northern Switzerland and southern Germany!
This was exactly what we were looking for.
After a short call with the balloon pilot, we were ready to give it a go! Then I suddenly got a bit nervous as everything seemed to be happening so fast… I started to prepare my self-made astronaut suit in the middle of the night, got the GPS, and everything else ready as well.
However, overnight the weather forecast changed and it suddenly got cloudy.
We had to call off our flight.
Having a clear shot at this seemed to be like putting together a complicated puzzle and just one missing piece will keep the lights on red for the jump.
What are the perfect conditions?
The perfect conditions are little to no wind on the ground, massive winds in the jet stream, no clouds, and the whole team in good shape and fit!
Only when all pieces fall in place would the flight be a “go”.
So, how much longer did you have to wait?
Well, we waited for months without another perfect day.
After months of waiting we got forced to relocate to Australia as we need to follow the stronger winter winds when the seasons changed in Switzerland.
In Australia, we promptly faced the next challenge: We had to get the whole equipment approved by the authorities! Luckily the team also flew over for supporting me and help me re-assemble the entire oxygen system once again.
Steven Gale, an Australian engineer was our “good spirit” on the ground and in the air. He flew his private military jet plane around our balloon. That allowed us to get pictures you could never get with a drone.
We had to find a new balloon pilot though. We talked with Steve Griffin. He’s an adventurous chap as well and didn’t take long to agree to bring me up to the jet stream in a rented balloon!
Then I resumed my test jumps in Condobolin, NSW, Australia.
My goal was to reach speeds above 300km/h vs. ground up in the jet stream, it’s very difficult to orientate and steer myself up there as I will have very limited points of orientation. However, I realized I managed to improve my landing skills further which is very good for my knees.
But eventually, you got the clearance, right?
Yes, after a successful testing day, we received an official clearance to jump from an altitude of 25,000 feet/ 7,620 meters – unfortunately not higher. And guess what, two days later the weather improved further and perfect conditions seemed to bring the project to a “go”!
Awesome, so how did it go?
On launch day, the jet stream speed dropped dramatically. In the early morning hours, we got ready in the dark. Before take-off, the team had to pre-breathe pure oxygen to get the body ready for extreme altitudes.
There was no chance for a trial run as there was only one day of clear skies. Steve and Tom [the balloon pilot and my skydiving buddy] joked about only one of them having a parachute before taking off.
Then we went for a “go” with perfect conditions on the ground as the balloon began its ascent into the jet stream. We started rising into the new day with plenty of sunshine!
It was a wonderful moment.
It’s nice when things finally work out!
Oh well, all seemed so well until we crossed 7,000 meters.
All of a sudden the oxygen valve froze and oxygen started to escape! We were prepared for that to happen and we were equipped with spare oxygen bottles. Just shortly after, the balloon burner stopped working as well – and that’s a really bad thing since it’s called a “hot air balloon” for a reason… Our pilot Steve brought a handheld blow torch along to re-ignite the flame, but that one didn’t work either at such altitudes… The burner wouldn’t re-ignite.
We suddenly faced two problems at once:
Oxygen and burner, both out!
Oh my, what did you do next?
As you can imagine, there was plenty of stress. The balloon started a rapid descent of 1,100 feet per minute while my two friends couldn’t get the burner to work anymore. Remember: One of them didn’t bring a parachute along.
Without the burners working it became very clear the balloon wouldn’t go any higher, this was my window of opportunity to attempt my world record as being the first person in history to skydive inside the jet stream!
Altitude: 7,400 meters, Temperature -40°C, Wind speed 140kph (that’s hurricane force).
At this moment I knew I had to leave the balloon and I took the jump!
Gosh! How was it?
While I was in free fall, I couldn’t really enjoy the moment. I kept thinking about my two friends in the balloon. They had to fight hypoxia and avoid crashing the balloon while only one of them had a parachute…
Oh yeah, I reached a horizontal speed of 271kph which was below my 304kph record from 2012.
But hey, I was the first human being jumping into the jet stream and I managed to end my flight with a great landing surrounded by sheep!
How about your crew?
It was a miracle, on the way down their burner suddenly started to work again! They could land safely as well and nobody got hurt. One hour later we were eating brunch in a pub. This emotional rollercoaster ride was out of this world!
Was it worthwhile?
Now that everything turned out well, it’s easy to say yes.
However, many things could have gone wrong and risk is always aboard when you test the limits of things that haven’t been done before.
I think that’s the reason why it’s called an adventure.
While my own speed record wasn’t broken, I’m happy to say I was the first man ever to jump and skydive into a jet stream!
And furthermore, I do hope my actions manage to raise awareness for the potential of jet stream energy harvesting. If done right, the power harnessed from these strong winds could provide a clean, renewable energy source for generations to come.
And who knows – maybe I’ll be recognized as the father of jet stream skydiving in time!
What’s your Advice for People feeling stuck in their Lives and wanting to make their Dreams come true?
My first and most important advice here is: Hang in there!
You got to have a vision about what you want, a motive, that’s how the word “motivation” came about. Only by having motivation, and a clear picture of a goal, will you have a clear and strong “why” that will allow you to bear any “how” if you will get stuck.
And trust me on this one: Getting stuck is part of the program. It’s an essential part of any progress, otherwise, your goal wouldn’t have been ambitioned or high enough!
How do you Finance your Dreams?
We are working with low budgets and showcased this with the BBC World news production that managed to reach 110 million people per week when it got broadcasted in three parts.
We work mainly with sponsors and supporters, and we’re always looking for people who like to get involved: Be it as a private person or as executive producer, to produce future movies together with us.
We would also love to work with foundations that like to support the concept and idea.
Lastly, we’re also happy for potential sponsors who could get great visibility by working with us.
Our film won 48 prizes (!) on several film festivals globally and is now available on Apple TV Plus and got sold/ broadcasted in multiple countries across the globe.
Sponsoring could be interesting for brands that like to reach a global audience and showcase their support for adventures and sustainable energy.
If you feel this could be something to learn more about, please reach out here as the next project will start soon.
What’s the next Project about Marc?
It will have something to do with hydropower and the streams of our oceans!
The project is all about attempting a new diving record in freediving, it is linked to hydropower! Similar to windpower, I’d love to bring attention to other new ways to earn sustainable energy from water as well.
It’s planned for 2024!
What an inspiring story, I can’t wait to hear Your next adventures! Thanks for sharing this with us!
My pleasure, thank you for having me! It’s always an honor to share my experiences and adventures. I hope it helps others get inspired to push their boundaries, overcome their fears, and explore the world and its potential in a safe, responsible, and sustainable manner!
Last but not least some Housekeeping:
If you’re a potential investor and consider learning more about how working with Marc and his team can give you more exposure and leverage, not just for one project/ adventure or for money, but generally for sustainability and clean energy-related topics, you got to reach out please!
Marc and his team are pioneers and you could be one as well! Our team, including our investors and sponsors, will hopefully be the enablers to bring these important topics to a broad mass!
Potential sponsors can be part of the adventure, and the movie: You would have the opportunity to become a clean-energy adventurer and pioneer!
Needless to mention, being part of our next adventure will get you the best stories for dinner parties and for your grandchildren to tell!
You will be a pioneer, enabler and adventurer!
And yes, with a few $10k-100ks you would be able to reach a global audience guaranteed.
Once again, if you feel this could be something for you, please reach out here as the next project will start soon!
I sincerely hope this interview/ sharing Marc’s story has given you a better understanding of how to overcome your fears and start building your dreams:
No matter where you are in life, it’s never too late to start turning your dreams into reality!
If you want to join Marc on his next adventure and become an enabler for clean energy topics while getting global exposure, now is the time to reach out! As mentioned, with just a few thousand dollars, you could be part of something truly inspiring and make history:
You can find Marc’s Zenventures right here!
In case you know a story or someone who constantly manages to walk his dreams, please do send me an email or contact me on Twitter and/ or Facebook, and please don’t forget to subscribe via email to my blog below in order not to miss any future dream walker episodes and finspiration for creating your dream life!
Happy dream walking!
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Disclaimer: This article is intended to provide general information and does not constitute financial advice. It is important to seek the counsel of a professional, such as a financial advisor or coach, for any specific questions about your personal situation.