Skydiver to jump from plane without a parachute on live TV

Fox network will broadcast live Saturday night as Luke Aikins aims to land in a 20-story high net in California without crashing through or bouncing out

Hes made 18,000 parachute jumps, helped train some of the worlds most elite skydivers, done some of the stunts for Ironman 3. But the plunge Luke Aikins knows hell be remembered for is the one hes making without a parachute. Or a wingsuit.

Or anything, really, other than the clothes hell be wearing when he jumps out of an airplane at 25,000 feet this weekend, attempting to become the first person to land safely on the ground in a net.

The Fox network will broadcast the two-minute jump live at 8pm ET (5pm PT) Saturday as part of an hour-long TV special called Heaven Sent.

And, no, you dont have to tell Aikins it sounds crazy. He knows that.

If I wasnt nervous I would be stupid, the compact, muscular athlete says with a grin as he sits under a canopy near Saturdays drop zone.

Were talking about jumping without a parachute, and I take that very seriously. Its not a joke, he adds.

Nearby, a pair of huge cranes define the boundaries where the net in which Aikins expects to land is being erected. It will be about one-third the size of a football field and 20 stories high, providing enough space to cushion his fall, he says, without allowing him to bounce out of it. The landing target, which has been described as similar to a fishing trawler net, has been tested repeatedly using dummies.

One of those 200-pound (91-kilogram) dummies didnt bounce out. It crashed right through.

That was not a good thing to see, recalled Jimmy Smith, the veteran Hollywood public relations man who, with his partner Bobby Ware, came up with the idea of having someone skydive without a parachute.

Chris Talley, who had worked with Aikins on other projects and helped train him for this one, recommended the skydiver to the two Amusement Park Entertainment executives. He told them Aikins was arguably the only guy not only good enough but also smart enough and careful enough to survive this.

Smith recalled how the three men gazed at each other with a look of foreboding after that dummy crashed through the net. Then they looked over at Aikins.

Luke just said: No biggie, thats why we test.

Fox has had little to say about the stunt other than it will be broadcast on a tape delay, as is the case with all its live broadcasts, says network spokesman Les Eisner. It contains a warning not to try this at home.

That would seemingly be difficult, as Smith and Ware had to scour a good part of the world, from Arizona Indian land to Dubai real estate, before they found what everyone agreed was the best place for Aikins to land.

Hell come down in a dry, dusty, desolate-looking section of an old movie ranch north of Los Angeles, where not that long ago Shia LaBeouf was battling Transformers.

The drop zone, surrounded by rolling hills, presents some challenges, Aikins said, noting hell be constantly fighting shifting winds as he falls at 120 mph (193 kph).

Other skydivers have jumped from planes without parachutes and had someone hand them one in midair. But Aikins wont even have that.


To me, Im proving that we can do stuff that we dont think we can do if we approach it the right way, he answers.

Ive got 18,000 jumps with a parachute, so why not wear one this time? he muses almost to himself. But Im trying to show that it can be done.

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