Highest skydive without a parachute
Luke Aikins
25,000 foot (feet);inch(es)
United States ()

On 30 July 2016, skydiver Luke Aikins (USA) leaped 25,000 ft (7,600 m) from a plane – without a winguit or parachute – and landed safely in a 100-ft by 100-ft net in Simi Valley, southern California, USA. The stunt, which he named “Heaven Sent”, brought him to a freefall speed of 120 mph (193 km/h). Aikins spent a full year-and-a-half preparing for the feat. He used a GPS unit to help guide him to the net, and – other than that – had only his own body to direct his movements using the air currents around him.

Fox television broadcast the two-minute jump live, but Aikins’ plans were nearly thwarted when the Screen Actors Guild insisted he wear a parachute for safety. He continued last-minute negotiations with them – even as the plane was climbing to the jumping altitude. He insisted that, paradoxically, the parachute would make jumping even more dangerous because he would have to adjust his position while approaching the net. The Guild relaxed the rules and allowed him to jump without the parachute. Just before he hit the 10,000-square-foot target (an area a third the size of a football field), he flipped onto his back and landed safely – exactly as planned. "I'm almost levitating, it's incredible," he said. "The thing that just happened. The words I want to say I can't even get out of my mouth.”

Aikins used an oxygen tank for the first 10,000 feet of freefall. Three other skydivers jumped with him, but they opened their parachutes at 5,000 ft. One of them collected the discarded oxygen tank, while another carried a camera. The third trailed smoke so that viewers on the ground – including Aikins’ wife and young son – could follow his progress during the descent.

An airplane and helicopter pilot, Aikins has worked as a safety and training advisor for the United States Parachute Association. He runs a skydiving school in Washington state. He made his first tandem jump aged 12, and his first solo leap just four years later.

The 42-year-old has now made at least 18,000 skydiving jumps, needing to use his emergency parachute on 30 of those occasions.

He has performed stunts in movies such as Iron Man 3.