When the first astronaut landed on the moon, it was "one small step for man." Now, 47 years later, the next "giant leap for mankind" will be made by a skydiver hurtling 25,000 feet down to earth – without the help of a parachute or wing suit*.
This first-of-its-kind event will be broadcast LIVE Saturday, July 30 (8:00-9:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed), on FOX, when world-class skydiver Luke Aikins jumps out of a plane with nothing but the clothes on his back and lands safely in the Southern California desert as his family and friends wait for him on the ground. The special will offer an exclusive behind-the-scenes look into Aikins' training and preparation, before culminating in the historic skydive.
A third-generation skydiver, the 42-year-old husband and father has 18,000 jumps under his belt and helped train Felix Baumgartner for his historic Stratos jump. While he has performed a variety of skydiving stunts for tentpole action films, this will be his most challenging jump ever. By negotiating his fall and landing – using only air currents – Aikins will make skydiving history.
"Whenever people attempt to push the limits of what's considered humanly possible, they're invariably described as crazy," said Aikins. "But to me, this jump is simply the next logical step in a lifetime of extreme challenges."
The Stride Gum brand from Mondelēz International, Inc. is sponsoring the historic live stunt experience. "When we first heard what Luke Aikins was going to attempt, our jaws hit the floor," said Bonin Bough, chief media and e-commerce officer for Mondelēz International. "Bringing Luke's vision to life will redefine what's possible for skydiving and stunts moving forward. His focus, courage and intensity inspire us on so many levels."
"Luke is actually a very down-to-earth guy," said Laura Henderson, global head of content & media monetization at Mondelēz International. "But his thinking is so bold and intense that we all felt this was the perfect event to team up with as we launch our new mad-intense Stride Gum campaign."
Perhaps no one is better prepared to take on such a challenge than Aikins. In addition to his movie stunt work, Aikins serves as a safety and training advisor for the United States Parachute Association (USPA) as an instructor to the instructors. As the owner of Para Tactics, Aikins provides advanced skydiving training to elite military special forces. He is also a staff member at Kapowsin Air Sports in Washington and has contributed to the family legacy with three world records.
"Everyone is calling this my 'coming-out jump' – which is ironic considering I've been skydiving since the age of 16," said Aikins. "But nothing even comes remotely close to this. I expect Heaven Sent to change me, skydiving and the future of live spectacles forever. It's going to be mad-intense and I'm thrilled to have Stride Gum on board as my teammate."
STRIDE GUM PRESENTS HEAVEN SENT will be broadcast live as a one-hour special on Saturday, July 30 (8:00-9:00 PM ET live/PT tape-delayed) on FOX.
Co-created by Chris Talley of Precision Food Works and Amusement Park Entertainment's Jimmy Smith, the event is being produced by Mondelēz International, Amusement Park Entertainment, and four-time Emmy winner Al Berman. In addition to the FOX broadcast, the event will be available via online streaming and pay-per-view around the globe.
"It's not every day you get a chance to be part of something that's truly historic," remarked Talley. "We're very proud to support Luke in this amazing endeavor. Minds will be blown all over the world when Luke makes his giant leap."
"HEAVEN SENT is the epitome of what we do at Amusement Park: create a larger brand story that is so compelling, it can't help but become part of the cultural landscape," said Smith. "I've never worked on a project so inspiring and mind-boggling all at the same time. It's one of those events where perhaps over a billion people will remember exactly where they were when Luke made history. Dope!"
Aikins' leap represents the culmination of a 26-year career that will set a personal and world record for the highest jump without a parachute or wing suit. In fact, it's precedent-setting, since it's never been done before – period (at least, not intentionally). "Of course, this is a personal goal, but I'm certainly not doing it alone or in a vacuum. Beyond all the marketing hype, this is a once-in-a-lifetime feat that has taken the world's best skydiving experts, scientists and engineers many lifetimes to pull off," added Aikins.