LOS ANGELES (AP) – A 42-year-old skydiver with more than 18,000 jumps made history Saturday when he became the first person to leap without a parachute and land in a net instead.
After a two-minute freefall, Luke Aikins landed dead center in the 100-by-100-foot net at the Big Sky movie ranch on the outskirts of Simi Valley.
“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 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.
A few minutes before the jump one of the show’s hosts said the requirement had been lifted. Aikins left the plane without the chute.
Aikins, has done stunts for “Ironman 3” and taught advanced skydiving tactics to soldiers.