Hollywood stuntman Gary Connery has completed more than 800 skydives, 450 base jumps and starred as a stunt double in famous movies including Indiana Jones, Batman and Harry Potter. But on Wednesday he did something no one else had ever attempted – to jump out of a helicopter and land safely without deploying a parachute.
The 42-year-old British daredevilÂ was relying on a “wingsuit” to slow him down and a stack of 18,600 cardboard boxes to break his fall, the BBC reports. The entire stunt took less than a minute, with Connery hitting a top speed of around 80mph.
“It was so comfortable, so soft. My calculations obviously worked out and I’m glad they did,” the father-of-two said after sailing head first into the cardboard landing pad. His wife Vivian said she was “relieved it’s all over.”
Mr. Connery leapt out of a helicopter above Henley-On-Thames, England, watched by thousands of people in the field, according to reports. The stunt lasted about 50 seconds, and with five seconds left, Connery spread his arms and legs open, resembling a flying squirrel.
To prepare for the jump he underwent weeks of intensive training in Switzerland and Italy, leaping from mountains and cliffs to perfect his wing suit glide angle. As part of the preparations, Mr Connery studied the flight of kite birds and how they use their tails to control their flight direction.
“Kites steer by twisting their tail one way or another and I’ll be doing the same,” he explained before the jump. “I got a really nice exit. I started to fly very, very stable very quickly but there must have been some turbulence.”
Gary Connery continued:Â “I was experiencing a lot of bouncing in that flight that I hadn’t experienced before, so it was a little weird. But these suits are amazing. There is so much stability in them.”
His wife Vivian, a cafe owner, said: â€śHe is obviously totally bonkers. I am just relieved it is all over.â€ť She said that empty boxes were considered the best way to break a fall as anything more dense than cardboard and air would be dangerous had such high speeds.
Mr Connery, a veteran of nearly 900 sky dives and 450 base jumps,Â made his first parachute jump at 23 after joining the Army. He has acted as a stunt-double for the likes of Gary Oldman, John Hurt and Rowan Atkinson and appeared in movies such as ‘The Beach,’ ‘Die Another Day’ and ‘Batman Begins’.
He also leapt from the Eiffel Tower, Nelson’s Column, Tower Bridge and the London Eye. Landing a wing suit without a parachute has been a dream of all skydivers since the modern wing suit was invented in 1997 by French skydiver and aristocrat Patrick De Gayardon.
US skydiver Jeb Corliss planned to become the first to land a wing suit without a parachute but his plans were suspended after he was seriously injured during a recent jump in South Africa.
By the way, skydivers have been racing to break records lately as Felix Baumgartner, 42, of Austria, plans to skydive this summer from a balloon on 120,000 feet in the atmosphere (see Felix Baumgartner Leaps 13 Miles From Edge of Space at 354Mph).
Felix Baumgartner has jumped 2,500 times from planes and helicopters, as well as some of the highest landmarks and skyscrapers on the planet â€“ starting from the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro and to the 101-story Taipei 101 in Taiwan.
This summer, the skydiver intends to hurtle toward Earth at fantastic speed from a record 23 miles up, breaking the sound barrier with only his body. â€śI like to challenge myself,â€ť Baumgartner said, â€śand this is the ultimate skydive. I think thereâ€™s nothing bigger than that.â€ť
The adventurer made it more than halfway there during a critical dress rehearsal on March 15th, 2012 , ascending from the New Mexico desert in a helium balloon and jumping from more than 13 miles up.
He is the third person who leaped from such an altitude and free fall to a safe landing â€“ and the first one to do so in 50 years. The record is belonged to the Air Force test pilot Joe Kittinger who jumped from 102,800 feet â€“ 19.5 miles â€“ in 1960.