02 Aug 16 Heaven-sent marketing scoop for Mondelez
There’s a good reason people don’t throw themselves out of airplanes without parachutes or wingsuits, and that’s because it rarely ends well. US skydiver Luke Aikins has proved the opposite with a record-breaking ‘chute-and-suit-less’ jump from 25,000 ft (7,620 m), sponsored by Mondelez International brand, Stride gum.
The stunt, by the name of “Heaven Sent”, was a first-of-its-kind, and the pinnacle of a 26-year career for the 42-year-old Aikins who set a world record for the highest jump without a parachute or wingsuit.
“Everyone was calling this my ‘coming-out jump’, which is ironic considering I’ve been skydiving since the age of 16,” said Aikins before the dive. “But nothing even comes remotely close to this. I expect Heaven Sent to change me, skydiving and the future of live spectacles forever.”
There are few people better placed to attempt this stunt. Aikins is a third-generation skydiver whose grandfather co-founded a skydiving school after returning from World War II. He has over 18,000 jumps under his belt and has performed a variety of skydiving stunts.
In addition, he serves as a safety and training advisor for the United States Parachute Association (USPA) instructing the instructors, provides advanced skydiving training to elite military special forces, and helped train Felix Baumgartner for his historic Stratos jump.
Aikins himself has a team of experts around him, including aerospace physiologist Chris Talley and performance psychologist Michael Gervais.
Training for the stunt saw Aikins carrying out test jumps with a parachute in which he has been aiming for a target created using PVC pipes attached to the side of a cliff. As training has progressed, the pipes were moved closer and closer together in order to hone Aikins’ ability to “hit the sweet spot”.
For the biggest challenge of Aikins’ career, he had to direct his body in freefall using only the air currents around him so as to land on a 100-sq ft (9.3sq m) net in the Southern California desert.
On Saturday, July 30, Aikins pulled off the record-breaking “Stride Gum Presents Heaven Sent” stunt at the Big Sky movie ranch in Simi Valley, CA, which was broadcast live to millions watching on the Fox network.
He hit the net perfectly, quickly climbed out of it and walked over to hug his our-year-old son Logan and wife Monica who had been watching with other family members.
‘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.
View this amazing stunt in the video below…