Plane Swap

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Luke Aikins has done it again!

He’s come up with an incredible idea, and put the team and technology together to make it happen…

Two planes, two pilots, no-one at the controls!

On Sunday, April 24, Red Bull Air Force members Luke Aikins and Andy Farrington will seek to make history with a world’s-first spectacle, Plane Swap.

During a three-hour live stream exclusively on Hulu in the US, Aikins and Farrington will each solo pilot an aircraft, put them into a vertical nosedive, jump out (leaving them empty) and skydive into each other’s planes.

This never-before attempted aerial performance will be a show-stopping, career-defining moment for the pair and as a trailblazing milestone in aviation.

Aikins and Farrington – teammates, cousins and accomplished skydiving masters – will attempt the stunt in two Cessna 182 single-seat aircrafts, which they will fly to 14,000 feet. The duo will then pitch their planes into a synchronized nosedive, aiming them straight towards the ground.

They will stop the engines, and a custom-manufactured airbrake will hold the planes in a controlled-descent terminal velocity speed of 140 mph as the pilots exit the aircraft, leaving them completely empty.

Aikins and Farrington will skydive towards each other’s planes, catch up to them, enter the cockpits, disengage the airbrake systems, restart the engines, and take control of the planes. 😲

Of course! 😉 All in a day’s work for these guys! 👊 😎

Luke Aikins and Andy Farrington

Luke Aikins

The Plane Swap concept is Aikins’ brainchild, inspired by a 1990s photo in an aviation publication. As an expert skydiver with more than 21,000 jumps, commercial airplane and helicopter pilot, innovator and coach, his impressive expertise lent itself to pioneer this next step in aviation.

Among Luke’s many achievements are serving as the skydiving consultant on the Red Bull Stratos mission (where Felix Baumgartner jumped from a record-setting altitude of 127,852 ft in 2012), developing Red Bull Aces, the world’s first-ever wingsuit slalom competition in 2014 and performing the historic first-ever skydive without a parachute on live TV (2016).

“Plane Swap is the culmination of my life’s work as a professional, both in the air as a pilot and skydiver and on the ground as an innovator. It’s the pinnacle of my career. My goal is to inspire the world and show that anything is possible. You can set your mind on something that at times seems wild, crazy and unattainable, but through ambition and creativity, you can make it happen.”

Luke Aikins

Andy Farrington

Andy is Luke’s perfect accomplice, he’s an accomplished pilot, a gifted skydiver with 27,000 skydives and a lifelong friend who’s supported Luke to help achieve many of his amazing ideas. The two cousins share a 40-acre property in Washington State, complete with an airplane hangar and grass runway where they raise their families the same way they were brought up: flying and skydiving.

Dr Paulo Iscold

Dr Paolo Iscold

Hours of research and development have gone into the plane modifications required to make the feat possible. Dr Paulo Iscold, world-renowned aeronautical engineer, partnered with Aikins and Farrington to serve as lead engineer on the project.

One of the major challenges was developing a methodology to hold the planes in a controlled vertical descent – the exact opposite of how autopilot systems are designed to function. This required the reverse engineering of the autopilot mechanics, and resulted in an innovative, purpose-built airbrake system installed on the aircraft belly, designed to control aerodynamic stability. Once engaged, it will ensure the planes maintain a relatively controlled terminal velocity in nosedive that closely matches the speed of the skydiver’s descent.

Two planes, two skydivers, one live attempt

The Plane Swap livestream will capture the world’s attention on Sunday, April 24 beginning at 4pm PDT/7pm EDT. Hulu is the exclusive streaming partner of Plane Swap in the US.

For more information, visit the Red Bull website here

Watch Luke’s No-Parachute jump here

Words and photos supplied by Red Bull Content Pool

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