One of the pilots who took part in an attempted plane swap stunt last weekend in Arizona is speaking out about information he says he kept from his team prior to the stunt.
Luke Aikins says he received notice via email on April 22, two days before the stunt, that a specific FAA exemption was not granted.
He says he made the decision to move forward with the plane swap anyway, adding in an Instagram post early Friday morning that, “I regret not sharing this information with my team and those who supported me.”
Aikins and his cousin, Andy Farrington, trained for months at the Oceano and San Luis Obispo airports to accomplish the dangerous stunt.
The two planned to intentionally set their planes into a nosedive at 14,000 feet and then skydive into the other plane.
Unfortunately, the stunt did not play out as they had hoped.
A live stream of the event, which was broadcast on Hulu, shows the two planes take the nosedive in the sky over Arizona. The pilots then exit the aircraft and as they are free-falling, attempt to get into the other plane. However, one of the planes begins to spin out of control.
The Federal Aviation Administration reports one of the pilots was able to safely land one of the planes. The other pilot was able to land safely using his parachute but the second Red Bull plane crashed.
“As project lead and chief pilot, it was entirely my responsibility to operate within the regulatory framework to ensure a successful outcome,” Aikins said at the start of his Instagram post. He ended it by saying, “I am now turning my attention to cooperatively working transparently with the regulatory authorities as we review the planning and execution.”
Cal Poly Professor Paulo Iscold was the main aeronautical engineer for the plane swap.