If you think skydiving is scary, try doing it from twice the usual height and without a parachute. After two minutes of free-fall, you must position yourself to land on a net less than half the size of a football field, spread out 200 feet above the earth.
On Saturday, Luke Aikins took that challenge. He was the first person ever to attempt a skydive with neither a parachute nor a wingsuit — and, in a feat broadcast live on Fox, the first ever to complete one.
Mr. Aikins began his dive at an altitude of 25,000 feet, just 4,000 feet short of the summit of Mount Everest. Viewers watched him plummet, legs and arms spread, stomach down. Around 18,000 feet, he removed his oxygen mask and passed it to one of the three parachuted assistants diving with him. He aimed for the center of the net, guided by GPS and lights. Seconds before impact, he flipped onto his back and landed safely in the California desert.
He lay cocooned in the net for a few moments, hands over his face. Then he clambered out, into the arms of his wife, Monica, with whom he has a 4-year-old son.