Highway to the danger zone?
Two cousins are looking to make aviation history this weekend in the Arizona skies as they attempt the first-ever “plane swap.”
The duo, Luke Aikins, 48, and Andy Farrington, 39, are seasoned skydivers and pilots and are both part of the Red Bull Air Force aviation crew.
On Sunday afternoon, Aikins and Farrington will attempt to accomplish the never-before-seen trick by flying their planes close together before going into a nosedive at 14,000 feet.
There, the plane engines will stop as a custom-made airbrake will “hold the planes in a controlled-descent” at 140 miles per hour. During the descent, the pilots will eject their aircraft and skydive into the other’s plane, gaining control of it before they land safely.
The plan is for all of it to happen in around 40 seconds, according to Red Bull.
“Plane Swap is the pinnacle of my career, and 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,” Aikins said in a statement.
This won’t be the first time either of the pilots will try for history; in 2016, Aikins became the first person to jump from 25,000 feet in the air and land safely without a parachute.
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The key to the mission is the custom-made airbrake made for the planes, made with the help of Paulo Iscold, engineer and professor at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. What the pilots needed was something on the planes for them to stay steady while not going into a nosedive so fast since the pilots will enter through a door “about the width of a household refrigerator.”
The brake was developed and tested out multiple times over the air in San Luis Obispo, over 150 miles north of Los Angeles. After all the test flights and modifications to various parts of the plane, Iscold said the stunt is ready to go.
“It’s literally all the work that I’ve been doing for a year is for 40 seconds of dive flight,” Iscold said, adding the project isn’t meant to test the future of aviation, but for fun.
“What we’re trying to do here is to inspire people and to show people that no matter how big the problem ahead of you is, if you treat the problem well and if you eat the elephant piece-by-piece, you can always eat the whole elephant.”
The stunt will take place on Sunday, April 24. It will be livestreamed on Hulu at 7 p.m. ET.
Follow Jordan Mendoza on Twitter: @jordan_mendoza5.