My short bio:

Hi, everyone. I’m Luke Aikins, a third-generation skydiver. I made a few headlines around the world this July when I jumped out of an airplane from 25,000 feet on live TV with no parachute or wing suit — just the clothes on my back — and landed safely on the ground.*

You can watch the whole special, called Stride Gum Presents Heaven Sent, for free right now on Stride Gum’s YouTube channel. Now I’m ready to jump in (yup) and answer any questions you might have about the jump, the science behind it or anything else you’d like to know. I’ll start you guys off by answering everyone’s first 2 questions: Yes I am a little crazy but no, I am not insane.

(*And by the way, I’m a professional skydiver with extensive training. Do not attempt, re-create or re-enact this jump!)

My Proof:

https://twitter.com/LukeAikins/status/775435954421051392

EDIT: Thank you so much for asking me about my Stride Gum, Heavensent Jump. I hope you enjoyed my comments.

Comments: 215 • Responses: 46  • Date: 

DaltyF53 karma

Did.. Did they... Did they pay you in gum?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent43 karma

I was so fortunate to come across a sponsor like Stride Gum that helped me accomplish something that seemed impossible to everyone else. I'm staring at 5 cases of Stride Gum in my office.

isahammyasandy26 karma

That jump is absolute madness. Did your massive balls of steel weigh you down when you were falling? Also, in your opinion, is a Hamburger a sandwich?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent34 karma

Yes they dragged me down a little thats why I was off to the side a little. No a hamburger is not a sandwich.

RealLifeModerator19 karma

Hey Luke! Did you realize how close of a near miss it was as you were approaching the net?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent20 karma

Yes, i saw it just prior. But knew I was in the safe zone.

vselbst17 karma

Was your wife supportive of this project the whole way or did she try to dissuade you from doing it?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent15 karma

Not in the beginning, but after we talked through it and we came up with a safety and testing plan, she came around.

Artie417 karma

I am most curious about the landing. What did that feel like? Impact? Your stomach? Etc.

LukeAikinsHeavenSent21 karma

The landing was remarkably soft, whether it was adrenaline or really that soft... I won't know. But it didn't knock the wind out of me.

bojancho13 karma

1) How sure were you that you were going to hit the net and land safely? How sure were you that the net was going to provide the safety you needed?

2) Was there, and if so, what what the emergency back up plan?

3) What were the things you, or the other skydivers, were looking out for to make sure the dive was going according to plan?

4) Did you say goodbye to any loved ones? What did they say about the jump in general? What was their reaction when you told them you were going to do this?

5) Did you write a will and/or letters saying goodbye in case the jump failed.

LukeAikinsHeavenSent32 karma

1-100% sure I ws going to land into the net. 100% sure the net would work based on all the testing. 2-There was no backup plan. 3-The other jumpers wore smoke that provided the ground crew visual reference to our position. The other jumpers also took my O2 system during the fall. 4-No, I didn't say goodbye... I said see you in a minute. Most were nervous about the jump, my mom refused to talk about it. 5-I wrote 1 letter my son that he will never see.

mommy2brenna12 karma

Quite amazing, I was scared shitless watching; did you have any fears before or during?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent16 karma

No. I was confident in the team and preparation of this jump.

dewgin8611 karma

what was the most nerve-wrecking part? the flight up or the actual jump?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent18 karma

The flight up was the most nerve wrecking part because I had 30 min to think about it.The jump was 2 minutes of concentration.

donutsandchampagne9 karma

What made you decide to jump without a parachute?!!

LukeAikinsHeavenSent11 karma

I wanted to prove that anything is possible with hard work and practice and that it could actually be done.

notreallyc3po9 karma

What was your routine that morning before the jump?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent13 karma

Tired to keep everything as normal as possible. Went for a walk on the beach with my wife and had breakfast with my family.

Kurly_Q9 karma

Hi there! A-licensed skydiver here...Almost to my B!

First off: Really inspiring jump! It's always exciting to see the boundaries pushed in our sport. I'm sorry you had to go through the whole "you must wear a rig" ... "Oh wait nevermind feel free to take it off on the plane" debacle.

My Question: What kinds of braces were you wearing for the jump? It almost looked like you were wearing a belly-mounted reserve to some, but to dispel rumors, I'm assuming it was a brace of some kind?

P.S: I laughed pretty hard at the handles check you did on the way down. Classic!

LukeAikinsHeavenSent20 karma

On my chest there was a camera and all the hardware to transmit the signal for Live air to ground. On my back I wore a MTN bike Spine protector and I wore a neck brace. Thats it. The handle check in air was an inside joke to the skydiving comminutiy. They're the only ones that noticed.

CollegeDistraction9 karma

Two questions for you: What do you think about Indoor Skydiving?. What do you think made the FAA tell you to wear a backup parachute and then make a last minute decision not to make you do so?.

Watched your jump with someone whose met you (and I believe has jumped with you also!).

LukeAikinsHeavenSent17 karma

IS, is a great tool, I used it to practice the rollover and its a very cool way to experience free fall without the risk. It was not the FAA, it was the Screen Actors Guild/ Union that tried to make me wear a parachute.

rbevans8 karma

How long did planning take and what kind of planning goes into this to be sure you hit the net?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent12 karma

Worked on this project for 2 years and 6 months of hard preparation and practice jumps.

ckk5247 karma

From a technical standpoint, what adjustments are you making and focusing on as you're falling?

Thanks!

LukeAikinsHeavenSent11 karma

I had a set of guidance lights on the ground that helped me know what direction I needed to move, so I focused on those and my altitude. The trick was the timing on when to roll onto my back. That was all on instinct.

dewgin867 karma

Would you ever do something like this again?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent10 karma

I have no plans to do another No Parachute Jump.

Clearly_Unimpressed6 karma

Was the controversial last minute decision to make you wear a parachute really last minute or was it just to stir up drama? Seems like that kind of detail would have been hammered out in the early planning.

LukeAikinsHeavenSent13 karma

Yes it was really last minute. The night before all that came down. The morning of the jump my wife and I made the decision to not wear the parachute no matter what SAG had told me. We knew that the safest way to land in the net was without it.

Squirrel_Haze6 karma

Hey Luke, congrats on your jump!! Are you expecting anyone to try and beat your record any time soon?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent11 karma

I'm not expecting it but I welcome anyone who pushes the envelope with calculated risk and not just "going for it". I never did it for a record. I didn't even think about that.

keithstoned15 karma

When you say you had trained and prepared for this event, did that include a full test of the jump accomplished? Had you completed any jumps without a parachute off camera prior to the event?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent8 karma

No, I did many jumps opening the parachute just above and many test drops of a 220lb dummy into the net system. What you saw on tv was the first time it was ever done.

this-n-that5 karma

Hey Luke, what did the impact feel like? And did you suffer any physical impacts as a result?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent10 karma

Impact felt super soft, it was softer than landing on your back on a trampoline. I was not sore at all.

[deleted]5 karma

[deleted]

LukeAikinsHeavenSent9 karma

I blew my left eardrum out on the first 25,000 ft practice jump.

_Internet_I_Wonder5 karma

Did you ever think you were gonna miss the Net?

Did that fear ever pop into your mind?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent9 karma

No, all the practice jumps I made helped build my confidence.

nonthaki5 karma

Do you still have the fear of heights like a greenhorn jumper does or that a rock climber experiences?

Do you have the initial heart-racing and do you hesitate a little before you take the initial step of jumping from a plane?

I am not asking a question about whether you were confident about whether you would hit the net as You have already answered that .

I am asking this because I am interested in rock climbing and want to try base jumping and stuff like that just to know what it feels like , but I am afraid of heights .

LukeAikinsHeavenSent7 karma

No. But when I look over the edge of a cliff without a parachute on I hold on very tight. No, my heart rate does not increase from a normal jump. But on this one it did.

SemenInYourStool4 karma

Skydiver / BASE jumper here. You're pretty much my hero.

With only having about 1400 skydives and around 200 BASE jumps, I guess my question is, at what point in your skydiving career (average jump number) did you realize you have absolutely no idea what you're doing, at what point did that go away, and what did you do to train to overcome that? (The average I've heard is about 5k and 10 - 15k jumps respectively.)

BONUS: What was the ground rush like before turning onto your back, if you experienced any?

Thanks for promoting skydiving like you're doing, and thanks for the AMA!

LukeAikinsHeavenSent8 karma

I believe that even now at 18,000 jumps I am still learning from my mistakes but mostly form others mistakes. But I think around 5,000 jumps I felt very confident in my ability.

The ground rush was INSANE at bout 1,000 feet down. But once I flipped onto my back I missed the final ground rush.

bdenny204 karma

How did you get around not losing your licenses or your pilot losing his?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent10 karma

I had complete FAA approval for our plan of activity. This ws not considered a skydive by the FAA.

AriaTheTransgressor4 karma

Would you rather fight 100 duck-sized horses or one horse-sized duck?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent7 karma

1 Horse sized duck for sure-- Because I could keep my eye on it the whole time. Can you imagine trying to watch 100 duck sized horses?!?!

Nuwser3 karma

Hey Luke! What did your family members say when you told them about this jump? Did you have any doubts prior to the jump? How did you get to this point in your career?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent7 karma

Everyone was supportive except for my mom. She refused to hear about it. But she did show up for the jump and stayed in the trailer until I was on the ground safe.

LukeAikinsHeavenSent7 karma

To get to this point in my career, Ive learned about all types of aviation and focused on skydiving. Thats how I was able to get 18,000 skydives.

Kandorr3 karma

How did you prep for potential wind variations? What were the roles of other guys in black? (guessing they'd steer you if things got off course, and be your last ditch safety if things got really nuts?)

LukeAikinsHeavenSent7 karma

For the WV, I practiced jumping in winds up to 22 knots and was able to hold position. The guys in black, were there to wear smoke for the ground spotter and to collect my O2 system. The could not have helped.

TheMeanCanadianx3 karma

I like to imagine aliens looking down on us, shaking their heads and going "humans are fucking crazy"

How does it feel to know the aliens perspective on humanity may have been forever changed by your actions?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent16 karma

Nanu Nanu

Roycetx3 karma

Cheerios or Frosted Flakes?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent6 karma

Cheerios

splattypus2 karma

What exactly do you do for income? Is it all from endorsements/sponsorships for stunts like that?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent8 karma

I teach skydiving, skydiving demonstrations, Hollywood stunts and aerial coordinate of other projects.

Deepfriedlogic2 karma

Was it scary?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent6 karma

During the actual jump it was not scary at all. I had no choice but to focus. BUT, A week later when I watched it- That was Scary!

goon24242 karma

Were those technical precautions that ultimately involve 'I'm just fucking falling out of the sky' enough to distract you from the reality of trusting that net?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent6 karma

No, once I got the thumbs up in the airplane about 5 min prior to jumping that the net was 100%, I never thought about the net again, just focused on landing in it.

Parenklisis2 karma

Are you into any other extreme sports? As well, how old were you when you did your first dive?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent4 karma

12 yrs old for my first Tandem. 16 for my first Static Line Jump.

I like snow skiing, flying airplanes and heli's, motorcycle's, and paramotors.

lowbrowTrollin2 karma

question. how much is does your life insurance cost, it's gotta be outrageous???

LukeAikinsHeavenSent6 karma

You can't get life insurance for jumping out of a plane without a parachute.

allwordsaremadeup2 karma

1)what do you think of those guys whizzing past mountains in wingsuits? Personally I think they're idiots, there's too many ways that can horribly go wrong and regularly does to be considered a good idea.

2)are there any practical side effects to your jump? Is catching people that accidentally fall from high altitudes now something we can mitigate somehow?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent3 karma

1- I think that proximity flying in the MTNS is incredible and I love to watch it. But for me when I wingsuit B.A.S.E. jump I like to keep more distance between myself and the Earth. 2-No, I don't think that its practical for catching people from high alt. but possible in a burning building scenario there could be applications.

Dittybopper2 karma

As an old skydiver I was wondering why you chose 25,000 feet? I do realize that the hieght would give you a slightly wider "cone of possibility," but why not the usual 15K jumps that most do?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent5 karma

It was choice by the creative agency that helped secure the sponsorship. It was safe to jump fro that alt. so I went with it.

Renshnard2 karma

Which song better encapsulates the sensation of gliding in a wing suit?

A. I Believe I Can Fly

or

B. A Whole New World

LukeAikinsHeavenSent6 karma

A. I believe I can fly.

toesarestilltappin1 karma

We're you chewing gum during the jump and if not, why weren't you?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent3 karma

I chewed jump all the way up to getting into the airplane.

blueskieslara1 karma

Hey Luke! Did you anticipate any of the backlash or negative reaction from the skydiving community about the project? Has anyone questioned you about it or are they all just armchair quarterbacks behind keyboards?

How many jokes have you heard about the size of and/or composition of your testicles?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent3 karma

Backlash/Neg Before the jump I had several people reach out to me saying that they saw no upside to a stunt like this, they thought it could only hurt our sport. After the jump they saw al the prep and training that went into it, some came around but a few still think it ws a bad idea- And I'm okay with that.

Hanshee1 karma

What's your favorite meal?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent3 karma

Lobster

BioniK_8151 karma

Congrats on the Jump

Question: In all things that you have done or do, is there anything that has given you the thrill like this? I know with somethings it is hard to repeat the feeling.

LukeAikinsHeavenSent3 karma

No, Ive never felt that much of a rush of adrenaline. It was awesome but I will not chase that rush of adrenaline because I don't think it could end well if your always chasing that much.

ninja_slacker1 karma

Do you think the organizers could have done a better job at advertising the event? I did not about the event till the day before and I did not find any way to watch this live (I live in Seattle)

LukeAikinsHeavenSent3 karma

I was so focused in staying alive I was not involved in any of that.

KamehameBoom1 karma

How could you make this bigger and better? Or do you think you've reached the pinnacle of this stunt?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent3 karma

I feel that this particular stunt has been done now. I don't think much point in going higher.

cartrman1 karma

What are some other things on your bucket list?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent3 karma

Haven't really though about it. Would love to own a helicopter someday.

KamehameBoom1 karma

Who's cooler, Luke Aikins or Luke Skywalker?

LukeAikinsHeavenSent4 karma

Luke Aikins-- I was named BEFORE Skywalker. Im a huge Star Wars fan but Luke whined a lot in the first movie!