Two cousins, Luke Aikins and Andy Farrington, were unsuccessful in completing the first “plane swap” Sunday night over the Arizona skies, as one of the Cessna 182’s spiralled out of control and ploughed into the desert.
According to the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), one of the two single-engine aircraft used in the stunt crashed after it spun out of control during the demonstration. The aircraft reportedly crashed west of Eloy.
The pilots could lose their licenses.
The FAA said in a statement that it denied Red Bull’s request for an exemption from FAA regulations regarding the safe operation of an aircraft. In the denial letter the FAA said, “There is no public interest in granting the exemption request.”
Both pilots are safe with no reported injuries.
The Red Bull-sponsored flight, which took place at an undisclosed location in Arizona, began as the two pilots ascended to the skies at about 5:45 pm local time.
Nearly an hour later, the two jumped out at 12,100 feet in the air with the airbrake system engaged on both aircraft.
Aikins was able to successfully get into the other aircraft, but Farrington was unable to.
The blue Cessna 182 spiralled out of control as Farrington could be heard saying on-air “blue plane is out of control.” Farrington then deployed his parachute and safely landed in a remote area. The uncontrolled aircraft had a parachute on it that automatically activated when it got to a certain altitude, and it was deployed before touching the ground.
“It just went and instead of stopping in that 90 degree dive, it just kept going and got over on his back,” Farrington said. “It was just not a chance.”
The key to the mission was the custom-made airbrakes, made with the help of Paulo Iscold, engineer and professor at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, California.
The brake was developed and tested multiple times in the air which allowed both aircraft to somewhat slow down, as they travelled at speeds of up to 140 miles per hour.
Aikins noted they were able to test everything for the stunt but the actual dive. He said the aircraft losing its center of gravity could have played a role during the nosedive.
“I thought I left Andy a good plane. I’m trying to think of what else I could have done to make it better for him when I left,” Aikins said. “We do what we can to prepare for this stuff and we hope it never happens. This is the best outcome of a bummer situation, really. “
As for if the duo will attempt the stunt again, Aikins said “we are going to go back and figure this out.”