A veteran skydiver made history over the weekend by completing the world’s first skydive without a parachute or wing suit.
Luke Aikins, 42, jumped out of an airplane 25,000 feet above California’s Simi Valley’s landscape before falling into a 100-by-100 foot net roughly 200 feet above the ground to cushion his fall.
At the time he hit the top of the net, Aikins was traveling at roughly 240 kilometers per hour.
Since Aikins jumped out at such a high altitude which was roughly twice the average skydiving distance of 13,000 feet, Aikins had to wear an oxygen mask until the 18,000 foot mark. He then handed the mask to his skydiving assistants. Aikins used GPS and a sophisticated light setup on the ground to guide himself to the small target which is smaller than half a football field. Just a few short seconds before hitting the net, he turned and faced towards the sky so that his back was turned towards the net.
The stunt was two years in the making as his friend, Chris Talley, came up with the idea back then. He originally turned it down saying that he had a son and a wife to take care of.
“I kind of laugh and I say, ‘Ok, that’s great. I’ll help you find somebody to do it,'” he told the Associated Press as he prepared for the jump last week.
After completing the jump, he embraced his wife, Monica and their four year-old son.
Aikins has completed more than 18,000 jumps during his lifetime and has previously worked with Felix Baumgartner, the Austrian skydiver who broke the speed of sound during a jump from 128,000 feet in 2012. Aikins also was a stuntman for the movie, “Iron Man 3.” He is a training adviser as well as skydiving instructor who owns the business, Para Tactics which provides training for Navy SEALs and other elite special forces.
Two days before the jump, the Screen Actors Guild told Aikins that he would have to wear a parachute if he wanted to do the jump and have it aired on television. Aikins said during the live broadcast with a slight delay, that wearing a parachute would make the jump more difficult and could hurt his body since there would be more weight added. He said that even if he did have the parachute, he wouldn’t pull the ripcord either way. He considered pulling out of the stunt but elected to do it anyways.
Minutes before jumping out of the plane, one of the show’s hosts lifted the restriction and Aikins was notified minutes before the jump that he could take it off for the stunt.