The FAA is investigating an unauthorized stunt that ended unsuccessfully Sunday night after one of the two planes involved crashed into the Arizona desert.
The stunt, planned by Red Bull, was supposed to allow two pilots to switch planes mid-air. The website stated that skydivers Luke Aikins and Andy Farrington would fly their planes to an altitude of 14,000 feet then send them into a nosedive before abandoning the aircraft at a speed of 140 miles per hour and dive into the other plane as they dove toward the ground.
Red Bull claimed that the two pilots, who happen to be cousins, would “go down in history as the first pilots to take off in one aircraft and land in another.”
The planes, both single-engine Cessna 182’s, were left pilot-less for less than a minute, but only one pilot reached the other aircraft. The other “crashed after it spun out of control” and the pilot landed safely using a parachute.
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The investigation by the FAA is due to the event organizers going through with the stunt despite being denied permission. In their application for permission, organizers stated that they had taken safety precautions that included practice runs using safety pilots, both aircraft and pilots being equipped with parachutes, and performing the stunt over a remote area of desert.
At this point we have conducted more than 100 vertical dive test flights with zero safety issues,” organizers wrote in their request to the FAA that was submitted in February.
The FAA denied the organizers’ request for the plane to be left pilot-less during the stunt that was televised on Hulu, but said that the event could take place “in compliance with FAA regulations by including an additional pilot for each airplane.”
Those involved in the stunt, including the pilots, Red Bull and Hulu, have yet to speak out about the incident.
Watch the plane-swap stunt attempt in the video below.
— Aaron Tevis (@AaronTevis) April 25, 2022