It was a stunt that went wrong. But at least nobody got hurt! On April 24th, 2022, two pilots attempted to leave their single-pilot aircrafts mid-flight. The idea was to swap planes mid-flight and land them safely. The stunt failed, resulting in one of the planes crashing.
The FAA has stepped in to revoke the licenses of both pilots involved.
This stunt happened as part of a promotional effort between Red Bull and Hulu, and was live streamed. The pilots involved in the stunt, Luke Aikins and Andy Farrington, were both FAA commercially licensed pilots, but neither of them received clearance for this flight. The FAA requires a pilot be at the controls of the craft and wearing safety belts at all times. Obviously, trying to leave the craft and skydive into another pilot’s craft, is in complete violation of this.
A waiver was requested from the FAA stating that this was in the public interest for the purpose of helping encourage interest and promoting aviation. The FAA clearly didn’t buy this excuse (for obvious reasons) and declined to issue an exemption. Despite this, the event still went on, and it seems like Aikens may have deliberately misled people regarding this.
Aikens issued an apology stating that he “regret(s) not sharing this information with my team and those who supported me” regarding not obtaining the waiver. It’s not specifically stated that he didn’t tell Red Bull or Hulu. There’d be a much bigger issue at hand if either or both of these companies knew the FAA hadn’t approved the stunt, and still proceeded with it. Did he lie to Farrington as well stating they were BOTH approved for the stunt? At least the event occurred over an Arizona desert miles outside of Phoenix, but it still resulted in a plane crashing to the ground.
The FAA investigation ultimately ended up revoking the pilot certificates for both men. This also comes off the heels of a story we reported on a couple of weeks ago when the FAA determined that a YouTuber purposely crashed their plane solely for the purpose of trying to entice viewers. Their license was also revoked.
It honestly should go without saying that aircraft are not toys to be played with and the FAA has strict regulations in place for a reason. The agency is fully in the right to revoke these certifications and we can only hope that more people learn from this before someone is killed.