A man jumped from an airplane at 25,000 feet (7,600 meters) without a parachute on Saturday – and lived to tell the tale.
No, Luke Aikins hadn’t inadvertently forgotten to put on his parachute prior to exiting the aircraft. This was a deliberate act.
After leaping from a plane above the southern California desert, the 42-year-old skydiving stuntman had a full two minutes to regret taking on the challenge, but considering it was being broadcast live on TV – oh, and his life was at stake, too – there really was no time for second thoughts. Or any way out, for that matter.
A 100×100-foot (30×30 meters) net had been set up to catch Aikins, one that must have looked about the size of a microchip when he began his dive. The stuntman hurtled toward the ground at terminal velocity. That’s 122 mph/54 meters per second. Otherwise known as fast.
A split second before hitting the net, Texas-born Aikins performed a lightning-quick body turn to ensure the best possible landing position.
For what must have felt like an eternity to those watching the stunt live, Aikins remained motionless in the net as it was slowly lowered to the ground. But he was fine, able to stand and raise his arms aloft as the nearby crowd cheered. First to greet Aikins was wife Monica, mightily relieved he was still in one piece as opposed to a cartoon-like splat deep in the desert floor.