How it works: Skydiving without a parachute

In July 2016, 42-year-old US skydiver Luke Aikins set a new record for the highest skydive without a parachute, but how did he do it?

3rd November 2016
How it works: Skydiving without a parachute (Getty)

Skydiver Luke Aikins lands safely after jumping 25,000 feet from an airplane without a parachute or wing suit as part of 'Stride Gum Presets Heaven Sent' on 30 July 2016 in Simi Valley, California. (© Mark Davis/Getty Images for Stride Gum)

1. The jump

Aikins leapt out of the plane at a height of 7,620m (25,000ft) without wearing a parachute or wingsuit.

2. The fall 

Aikins reached speeds of 193km/h (120mph) during the two-minute fall.

3. The guidance system

A GPS system on his helmet relayed his position to a guidance system on the ground, which was linked up to the net. The net featured a system of lights that shone red when he was off-target, and white when he was correctly oriented.

4. The landing

A second before impact, Aikins flipped onto his back. He landed in a polyethylene net measuring 30 x 30m (100 x 100ft) that was suspended above the ground by four cranes.


Get more fascinating Q&As from BBC Focus magazine by following @sciencefocusQA

You are currently reading: How it works: Skydiving without a parachute - 3rd November