Daredevil takes a leap of faith from 7,620m

Mr Aikins landing safely in a net after jumping from an airplane. He set the record for the highest jump made without the help of a parachute or wing suit.
Mr Aikins landing safely in a net after jumping from an airplane. He set the record for the highest jump made without the help of a parachute or wing suit.PHOTO: EUROPEAN PRESSPHOTO AGENCY

LOS ANGELES • A daredevil skydiver has become the first person to jump from a height of 7,620m without a parachute, landing in a net in southern California, a spokesman said.

Mr Luke Aikins, 42, who has 18,000 jumps under his belt, completed the jump on Saturday in Simi Valley just west of Los Angeles.

He landed in a net measuring 30m by 30m, in a feat broadcast on Fox.

"Aikins' leap represents the culmination of a 26-year career that will set a personal and world record for the highest jump without a parachute or wing suit," his spokesman said in an e-mail.

The Fox broadcast showed Mr Aikins, who was wearing an oxygen mask because of the altitude, jump out of a propeller plane in a bright green outfit along with three parachutists.

He later handed the mask to one of the other jumpers in mid-air. Then, the three accompanying skydivers opened their chutes and seemed to rise up away from Mr Aikins, as he fell alone.

Lights were set along the side of the net to serve as a guide for him to aim himself as he hurtled toward it. When he was on target, the lights shone white.

Throughout the entire free fall, he appeared to be able to control his body effortlessly, with his arms and legs extended, face downward.

After about two minutes in the air, he flipped onto his back at the last second and hit the net, which was suspended 61m above ground with a secondary net below it.

He previously said the net system would subject him to a G-force of no more than 5-Gs and break his fall for about one and a half seconds.

After he was lowered from the net, he hugged his wife.

"I'm almost levitating, it's incredible," he told an interviewer. "The words I want to say, I can't even get out of my mouth. All of these guys, everything that made it happen... It's awesome."

Also an airplane and helicopter pilot, Mr Aikins made his first tandem jump when he was 12, following with his first solo leap four years later.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, XINHUA

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 01, 2016, with the headline 'Daredevil takes a leap of faith from 7,620m'. Print Edition | Subscribe