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How Skydiver Jumped Without a Parachute (and Survived)

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Skydiver Luke Aikins became the first person to jump from a plane without a parachute or wingsuit this past weekend, carrying out the daring stunt on live television. Aikins jumped from a height of 25,000 feet (7,600 meters) and, after a two-minute fall, flipped onto his back to land in a 100-foot-by-100-foot (30 m by 30 m) net, according to news reports. How did the daredevil pull off such a heart-stopping stunt?

To accomplish such a jump with a parachute, a skydiver would typically jump from the plane, free-fall at 120 mph (190 km/h) or faster and then, at higher than 2,500 feet (760 m) above the ground, deploy the parachute, according to Nancy Koreen, spokeswoman for the U.S. Parachute Association. The parachute works to slow the skydiver’s descent enough for a safe landing, she told Live Science.

Without a parachute, a skydiver would continue to fall at 120 mph, a speed at which it would be fatal if the person hit the ground, she said. However, instead of hitting the ground, Aikins fell into a net in Simi Valley, California, reported CBS News. “That was what he used to survive,” Koreen said. [8 Craziest Skydives of All Time]

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