Felix would be for the high jump if he tried this over New Zealand
IN HIS OWN WRITEGORDON BROWN
Let's hear it for Felix Baumgartner.
He flew 39,045 metres in a helium-filled balloon, then completed a jump that defied belief. Some would say he was mad, and they would possibly be right. Others would simply describe him as another daredevil who proved that the art of the seemingly impossible was indeed possible.
They would be right as well.
To jump out of something nearly 40 kilometres high in the sky is something most people in the world wouldn't dream of doing. Maybe Felix is on his own on that one and he is now a member of the world's most exclusive club, but what we all know is that he dared to do it.
That was a triumph of the human spirit. Even better, tens of millions of people all over the world watched him do it and I wonder just how many of us looked away when he did make the biggest plunge of his, and anybody's, life. Perhaps it was just as well he did it in the United States though. Can you imagine the furore if he'd tried to do it in New Zealand?
The various health and safety departments and their myriad regulations would have stopped it.
He would have needed a licence for his helium-filled balloon, especially going up that sort of height.
The aviation bods at the ministry would have insisted that it's our airspace and as such they should have jurisdiction over what happens there.
The Government would have insisted on a huge public liability insurance premium. After all we can't have Felix plummeting to Earth if things didn't work out. Whether burnt up or not on his re-entry, he could have made a mess if he landed in the wrong place. For instance, imagine the consequences if he crashed through the Beehive! Some of our best and brightest could have been wiped out by this human missile - although Parliament could have been sitting.
Then there would have been the usual misgivings about advertising a sugar- laden energy drink like Red Bull, the sponsor which picked up much of the costs of the jump. Both Felix and Red Bull are Austrian by origin, so it was a good fit. The Greens would have wanted the jump banned on those grounds, or at least have the television coverage banned in case impressionable young Kiwi kids at home tried it too.
Winston would be thumping the desk demanding super gold cardholders get a discount on any future jump from the stratosphere, and demand to know why NZ First wasn't consulted about these foreigners coming here to undertake commercial activities.
Some iwi representatives would threaten court action if they didn't get a slice of the action, because they had an urgent claim before the Waitangi Tribunal for the stratosphere. Hone would probably park his car across the launching pad.
The anti-pokies mob would be up in arms because Felix was obviously gambling with his life and it is only a short step from that to playing the evil machines, should he land back safely. Therefore he must be saved from himself.
Then there would be the usual union complaints about imported labour taking jobs away from New Zealand union members. John Key would be characterised as someone cosying up to the Austrians and selling out Kiwis. If this Felix fellow wanted to go sky-high, only to jump out, then we could get him up there.
Then the real heat would go on Felix and his mates after unleashing half the alphabet on to him: ACC, OSH and IRD just for starters. Then no doubt the country's spy service, the GCSB, would want to investigate Felix on the grounds that his father may have known Adolf Hitler, who came from the same country.
Finally, where would Kim Dotcom fit into all this? Certainly not in the hot- air balloon.
Mind you, he could probably serve as the hot-air balloon. We've just about had as much of him as we can take.
Now obviously some of this is far- fetched and unlikely to happen.
That said, it does give us a sad reminder of just how much we are getting bogged down in doing anything different, or even audacious.
These days you can almost guarantee there will be the vested interests or Those Who Know Better finding reasons why someone else shouldn't be doing anything they don't approve of.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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