Skydiving is not for the faint of heart; just the thought of making a jump gives some folks shaky knees. But now think about typical sky dives and double the distance. Then take away the parachute. Add in a net half the size of a football field, positioned 200 feet above the earth to catch you when you land. Sound crazy?
If you’re like most people, the answer is a resounding “yes!” For daredevil Luke Aikins, it sounded like a challenge – one he took. Aikens recently became the first person ever to attempt a skydive without a parachute or a wingsuit. The 25,000-foot jump was broadcast live on Fox television.
During the jump, Aikens was surrounded by three parachuted assistants diving with him. He made the jump from a plane high above the Simi Valley in California. From 25,000 feet, he soared in a free-fall to 18,000 feet, at which time he passed his oxygen mask to one of his assistants. Luke plummeted through the sky, legs and arms spread and stomach down. Guided by GPS and lights, he aimed for the center of the net and, just seconds before impact, flipped over to his back and landed safely on the net above the desert sand.
Aikens, 42-years-old, has made about 18,000 jumps since he was twelve and planned the chute-less stunt for almost two years. When he landed in the net, he lay with his hands over his face for a few moments before climbing out and into the arms of his wife, Monica, with whom he has a 4-year-old son. Afterward, according to E! Online, Luke told reporters: “I’m almost levitating – it’s incredible, this thing that just happened. The words I want to say, I can’t even get out of my mouth.”