In a glorious display of daredevilry and pushing the boundaries of what a human being can – physically and mentally – achieve, skydiver Luke Aikens jumped 25,000 feet from a plane and landed successfully in a net on the ground without a parachute or a wingsuit. Aikens is the first person in the history of skydiving to pull off such a feat.
After making the successful fall, Aikens went and hugged his wife, who was watching the entire jump with their 4-year-old son and extended family. The entire free-fall took around two minutes, and the 42-year-old skydiver, who has made around 18,000 jumps to date (with a parachute), flipped on his back at the last second after he hit the 100-by-100 foot net in the dead center. The entire event took place on the outskirts of Simi Valley at the Big Sky movie ranch.
“I’m almost levitating, it’s incredible. This thing just happened! I can’t even get the words out of my mouth. Baba booey,” a very happy Aikens explained as he thanked the crew members who worked hard to create the fishing trawler-like net and ensured that it really worked.
Interestingly, Aikens almost never went through with the jump. Just before climbing on the plane, Aikens revealed that he had considered pulling out from the jump because the Screen Actors Guild had asked him to wear a parachute for his safety. However, wearing a parachute canister on his back would have actually made it even more dangerous. In any case, Aikens would have never pulled the ripcord and therefore making it quite pointless. The producers of the show weren’t available for a comment on the same.
“I’m going all the way to the net, no question about it. I’ll just have to deal with the consequences when I land, of wearing the parachute on my back and what it’s going to do to my body,” the skydiver said.
Just minutes before jump, the host for the show relayed the news that the requirement had been lifted. After which, Aikens got on the plane without a parachute.
Broadcasters had also announced during the event that Luke wasn’t allowed to speak to anyone during the jump because that would then break his focus and concentration. Furthermore, thanks to the pristine weather condition, Aikens actually managed to make the jump.
In fact, Aikens had three other skydivers (wearing parachutes) with him: one held the camera, another used a trail of smoke to make it easier for people to follow his descent, and the last one actually grabbed the oxygen canister – used at a very high altitudes to support breathing – from Aikens after they reached a comfortable altitude.
When he was approached with the idea of achieving this feat, Aikens had actually declined.
“Like any normal, sane person, I said, thank you but no thank you I have a wife and a son and I’ve got a life to live. Then, two weeks went by and I kept waking up in the middle of the night thinking, if somebody said you had to do this how could it be done?”
Moreover, Aikens was also nervous about the entire jump. Talking to The Guardian, he said, “If I wasn’t nervous I would be stupid. We’re talking about jumping without a parachute, and I take that very seriously. It’s not a joke.”
The entire free fall was aired on a show called Stride Gum Presents: Heaven Sent on Fox.
[Photo by Mark Davis/Getty Images for Stride Gum]