A 42-year-old skydiver with more than 18,000 jumps made history when he became the first person to survive a leap without a parachute. In a stunt called "Heaven Sent," Luke Aikins leaped 25,000 feet to Earth — setting a world record. To accomplish this feat, Aikins had to direct his body in free fall using only the air currents around him to land safely on the high-tech 10,000-square-foot net (about a third the size of a football field) laid out to catch him.
Moments before hitting the safety net, Aikins rolled over onto his back to land in the right position. As supporters erupted into applause and cheered for the skydiver, he climbed out of the net and hugged his wife, Monica, and their 4-year-old son, Logan. “I’m almost levitating. It’s incredible!” said the stuntman. “This thing just happened! I can’t even get the words out of my mouth.”
Luke Aikins, who said during the broadcast that he'd been preparing for this jump for two years, had previously done 18,000 parachute jumps and performed a variety of stunts including for the movie Iron Man 3. He's a third-generation skydriver whose grandfather co-founded a skydiving school after serving in World War II. Further to his credit, Aikins is a safety and training adviser for the United States Parachute Association (USPA), where he provides advanced skydiving training to elite military special forces.
However, that didn't make him not worried about the risky jump. "If I wasn't nervous I would be stupid," told Luke Aikins. "We're talking about jumping without a parachute, and I take that very seriously. It's not a joke." According to The Associated Press, "Just before climbing into a plane to make the jump, Aikins said he had been ordered to wear a parachute but indicated he wouldn't open it. As the plane was climbing to 25,000 feet above the drop zone he said the requirement had been lifted and he took off the chute."