the world's premier FREE website for learners + teachers of English
photo Tara Benwell Instructions:
  1. Preview the vocabulary and read the gapfill text.
  2. Play the news report and try to fill in the blanks.
  3. Answer the comprehension questions by writing full sentences.
  4. Use the discussion question to write an essay or discuss the story with other students.
  5. Click "show Answers" to see the full text.
  6. Pretend to be a news anchor by reading each story out loud.

Skydiver Breaks The Speed Of Sound

dateline: 16 October 2012

Pre-Listening Vocabulary

  • capsule: a sealed cabin or vehicle
  • pressurized: providing maintained air pressure
  • helium: a colourless, odourless gas
  • high-tech: using advanced technology

Skydiver Breaks The Speed Of Sound

Felix Baumgartner, a skydiver from , jumped out of a capsule from 39 kilometres over the New Mexico desert and broke the speed of sound. The pressurized capsule was carried up to the by a massive helium balloon. Baumgartner’s free fall lasted for four minutes and 20 seconds before he deployed his parachute and for five more minutes. In addition to reaching an estimated speed of 1,342 kilometres per hour, Baumgartner also broke the record for the sky jump and the highest flight in a helium balloon. The pressurized suit Baumgartner wore kept him alive during the free fall, and will help design future high-tech spacesuits.

Comprehension Questions

  1. Who is Felix Baumgartner?
  2. How did the skydiver get so high above the earth?
  3. How did Baumgartner’s body withstand the cold, thin air at such high altitudes?

Discussion Question: Many media outlets referred to “Fearless Felix’s” jump as “A giant leap for mankind”. Critics argue that it was merely a stunt and a marketing campaign. In your opinion, how does this jump compare to Neil Armstrong’s lunar landing?

show Answers

Written by Tara Benwell for EnglishClub
Tara Benwell is a Canadian freelance writer and editor who specializes in materials and articles for the ELT industry.

Please let us know your thoughts in the comments section below