Skydiver becomes first person to jump, land without parachute
LOS ANGELES — After leaping from an airplane, Luke Aikins rocketed toward earth for two minutes, and then calmly flipped onto his back at the last second and landed in a 100-by-100-foot net in California.
Cheers rose from those who gathered at the Big Sky movie ranch on the outskirts of Simi Valley to watch the stunt, including his family.
The 42-year-old skydiver with more than 18,000 jumps made history as the first person to survive a leap without a parachute and land safely in a net.
As the audience erupted, Aikins quickly climbed out, walked over and hugged his wife, Monica, who had been watching from the ground with their 4-year-old son, Logan, and other family members.
“I’m almost levitating. It’s incredible,” the jubilant skydiver said, raising his hands over his head as his wife held their son, who dozed in her arms.
“This thing just happened! I can’t even get the words out of my mouth,” he added as he thanked the dozens of crew members who spent two years helping him prepare for the jump, including those who assembled the fishing trawler-like net and made sure it really worked.
The jump — from the death-defying altitude of 25,000 feet — makes Aikins the only skydiver ever to go from plane to planet Earth without a parachute.
The stunt, broadcast live on the Fox network for the TV special “Stride Gum Presents Heaven Sent,” nearly didn’t come off as planned when Aikins revealed just before climbing into his plane that the Screen Actors Guild had ordered him to wear a parachute to ensure his safety.