Luke Aikins – Sky diving without a parachute from 25,000 Feet

Genesis cover

On Christmas Eve 1968 three Americans became the first humans to visit another world. What they did to celebrate was unexpected and profound, and will be remembered throughout all human history. Genesis: the Story of Apollo 8, Robert Zimmerman's classic history of humanity's first journey to another world, tells that story, and it is now available as both an ebook and an audiobook, both with a foreword by Valerie Anders and a new introduction by Robert Zimmerman.

The ebook is available everywhere for $5.99 (before discount) at amazon, or direct from my ebook publisher, ebookit.

The audiobook is also available at all these vendors, and is also free with a 30-day trial membership to Audible.

"Not simply about one mission, [Genesis] is also the history of America's quest for the moon... Zimmerman has done a masterful job of tying disparate events together into a solid account of one of America's greatest human triumphs." --San Antonio Express-News

An evening pause: I admit I could not have watched this live.

Hat tip Phill Oltmann.


My July fund-raiser for Behind the Black is now over. The support from my readers was unprecedented, making this July campaign the best ever, twice over. What a marvelous way to celebrate the website's tenth anniversary!

Thank you! The number of donations in July, and continuing now at the beginning of August, is too many for me to thank you all personally. Please forgive me by accepting my thank you here, in public, on the website.

If you did not donate or subscribe in July and still wish to, note that the tip jar remains available year round.


Regular readers can support Behind The Black with a contribution via paypal:

Or with a subscription with regular donations from your Paypal or credit card account:


If Paypal doesn't work for you, you can support Behind The Black directly by sending your donation by check, payable to Robert Zimmerman, to
Behind The Black
c/o Robert Zimmerman
P.O.Box 1262
Cortaro, AZ 85652


  • Alex Andrite

    Well, that sums it up. 25K.

    uh, my Airborne friends would smile.


  • LocalFluff

    This is crazy! Some people really wanna live on the edge.

    I made a two week hang gliding course in Millau France once upon a time (that’s the sum of my aeronautical experiences, and that is enough). The instructor started it off by saying that hang gliding is not dangerous. More people die while playing golf than while hang gliding. I thought for myself that thousands more people play golf than hang glide, and many of them elderly who will have their heart attack anywhere they are.

    Then he listed examples of people having died while hang gliding. One had forgotten to attach the carabiner, or perhaps it malfunctioned, of the wing to the harness, jumping off the cliff to quick death. Another one drove over the wing when he parked the car after having assembled the wing on the ground, so that it was deformed and fell like a leaf in November. Another one got the company of two fighter aircrafts passing by at supersonic speed, crumbling the wing with the air turbulence. One ascended so high, in persistent upwinds so strong that they refused any diving, that he suffocated. And some have drowned after landing on water, which is not a good idea when attached to a wing on your back that prevents useful swimming and getting the head above the surface to breath.

    One guy in our hobby training camp broke his leg almost immediately. But he stayed along to watch the remainder of us, saying that it could’ve been worse. Another guy towards the end when we finally had learned to attain some altitude, blew away behind the mountains. Next morning he came limping back with thrashed clothes and bruises carrying his wing. Saying that it took him hours to climb down from the tree he crashed and entangled into, and then all night to find his way out of the forest. I got away with bruised legs and a crack in the ribs while learning how to land the thing.

    The instructor held the course at his farm, and he let us drink local wine for free. Which is a very good idea when teaching a gang of youth how to hang glide! We were all constantly drunk. He should work for SpaceX. That was a memorable vacation. I still recommend hang gliding for the daring childless guys. It is a fantastic feeling to fly like a bird.

  • mpthompson

    Watching this reminded me of how the Starship is supposed to land. Freefall death dive using limbs/flaps to control the decent to a specific location and then an abrupt flip at the end to land. It will be awesome to watch.

  • janyuary

    Oh Local Fluff … that was a wonderful read!
    For some, thank goodness, living dangerously is required for contentment. Without such it would be a dreary world indeed.

  • wayne

    Folksam –
    “Parachuting cats”

  • Ray Van Dune

    It appears the he landed more than halfway from the center of the net to the edge. Not very reassuring accuracy!

  • LocalFluff

    @Ray Van Dune
    Half a radius off after having fallen 25,000 feet lealessly? That’s excellent! I would probably have fallen 17 radius further away. Let me check with my pocket calculator… Yes about 17. Even if I aimed instead of screaming in panic, or pray.
    Then I would’ve slammed my head to the ground so hard that finally something good came out of it. As some women and other superiors and friends have suggested me to do, thank you very much.

  • Dean Hurt

    This seems like an inordinately stupid thing to do! A few feet on mis-calculation and he would have been “Street-pizza” and a sad note in the papers.

  • John

    Holy cow LocalFluff….”Next morning he came limping back with thrashed clothes and bruises carrying his wing. Saying that it took him hours to climb down from the tree he crashed and entangled into, and then all night to find his way out of the forest”

    Glad he made it back wounded the next day. Any longer and I’d get worried and, I don’t know, look for him or something! I’d have left the stupid wing too. If no man left behind doesn’t apply, then neither does come back with your wing, or on it.

  • Jeff Wright

    I seem to remember a man in a wing-suit crash into some boxes and live.

  • LocalFluff

    @John, Bah, this was in France. If he doesn’t want to fly back, that’s up to him. And it wasn’t his wing, it was just borrowed. And of course he wanted to continue flying, undeterred. A Norwegian friend who has also hang glided told me that he once blew into a mountain side out in nowhere and spent days climbing down trying to find some civilization that could take him home. He quit the hobby when he became a father, which is a good idea. Our instructor showed photos from when he hang glided over the Ural mountains in Russia/Siberia. Landing there might be dangerous, cosmonauts have a gun to fend of the bears when they land from the ISS.

    The thing is that the weather conditions are important, and one doesn’t see winds. In calm weather it is not dangerous once one get a feeling for the simple landing maneuver (one stalls the wing to stop it and lands on the feet). The wing’s shape is such that it stabilizes itself, dropping about 1 meter for each 10 meters advanced. And one steers it with the body weight, which is a great feeling. No indirect controls, no noisy engine, one flies more effortless than a bird, like an angel as if one were born with wings. Invented by some NASA guy in the 1960s, I’ve heard.

  • David M. Cook

    Octaive Channute (sp?) was the first, in the late 19th century. I believe he died doing it! As for the gun-toting cosmonauts, it was wolves, not bears! Robert, am I right?

  • David M. Cook: As for the guns on Soyuz capsules, they were there to help protect them against any wildlife should they be forced to land in remote places.

    AS to whether any cosmonauts ever needed to use these weapons, I have no memory of any example, nor can I find a confirmed example.

  • sippin_bourbon

    As my wife said when she watched this.

    “That’s a whole lotta NOPE, right there.”

  • His life, his privilege to risk it however he likes. I’m more concerned about the bleachers full of spectators, who have taken time and trouble to be at the front row to watch what had to be a significant chance of gruesome death.

    I have always dismissed those folks who say people go to NASCAR races for the wrecks. Maybe they have a point.

  • Andi

    Not only that, they could have been active participants if his aim was off a bit

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *