Skydiver Lands Sans Chute
Stuntman Gary Connery made history today by becoming the first person ever to leap from a perfectly good aircraft and land safely without the aid of a parachute.
Instead, the 42-year-old Englishman aimed for—and nailed—a 350-foot-long, 12-foot-tall and 40-foot-wide "landing strip" made of some 18,000 cardboard boxes.
Connery worked closely with wingsuit manufacturer Tonysuits to pull off the stunt. His strategy was to stabilize his glide trajectory at 60mph, then take aim at his cardboard-box target about a mile away. By "flaring" his wingsuit (think: flying squirrel) to control descent rate and speed, Connery was able to slow his forward approach speed to approximately 50mph, and reduce his vertical drop from 25 to 15mph. From there, he let the cardboard break his fall, walking out of the controlled crash-landing not just unscathed, but smiling and mugging for interviews.
Connery is an experienced BASE jumper and wingsuit flyer, with leaps off of such iconic structures as the Eiffel tower under his belt, and wingsuit flights down the famous—in wingsuit circles, anyway—"Crack" in Walenstadt, Switzlerand. (This video of the ravine in Switzerland is scary enough to make his 50-second cardboard crash-landing look like a glorified high-dive belly-flop.)
Connery is also an accomplished stuntman, with an impressive IMDB portfolio that ranges from a doubling as a cliff-diving Leonardo DiCaprio in The Beach to stunt work for the latest Indiana Jones movie.
Although he did have a parachute, he refrained from pulling it. Connery spoke with UK newspaper The Independent before the jump about how he was handling the fear. "Paranoia for something like this is a great state of mind," he told the paper. "Yeah, I'm going to be scared, I don't deny that, but as soon as I make that choice to go off the edge...you're in a completely different space."
And the landing?
"It was so comfortable, so soft," Connery told Sky News after the jump. "My calculations obviously worked out—and I'm glad they did."