It could have been a scene from an action movie: a 42-year-old professional skydiver plummeted to earth from an airplane this weekend at breakneck speeds and without a parachute. The feat became a world record.
Luke Aikins put it all on the line on Saturday during the televised event called “Heaven Sent,” becoming the first person in history to jump from a plane from nearly 5 miles in the sky without a parachute or wingsuit, and landing safely with pinpoint precision in a 100-by-100-foot net posted above the ground. All it took were two minutes, 25,000 feet and years of preparation.
Aikins flipped onto his back seconds before making contact in the California desert outside Los Angeles, pausing only for a moment before rising from the net uninjured to the arms of his wife and 4-year-old child.
“I mean I’m almost levitating, it’s incredible the thing that just happened,” he said following the jump. “It is awesome.”
Aikins left the airplane alongside three fellow skydivers who all donned parachutes and helped him through the free fall. Before the jump the stuntman said he expected to reach speeds of up to 150 mph.
Aikins, who comes from a long lineage of daredevil divers dating back to his grandfather, began jumping from planes at the age of 12. Three decades later he has accumulated more than 18,000 solo dives, according to the Associated Press.
His wife is a skydiver and his family owns a skydiving outfit in the state of Washington. He spends some of his time as a safety and training adviser for the United States Parachute Association and sometimes trains Navy Seals on how to perform the dangerous task.
“My vision was always proper preparation and that if you train right you can make anything happen,” Aikins posted on his Facebook page after the jump.