Pilots speak after mid-air plane swap stunt goes wrong in Arizona

ELOY, Ariz. (KTVK/KPHO/Gray News) - A Red Bull plane crashed in Arizona over the weekend during a stunt attempt called the “first of its kind.”

Two pilots tried to swap planes at 14,000 feet Sunday. Both pilots landed safely, one by plane and the other by parachute.

The planned stunt featured two skydivers, Luke Aikins and Andy Farrington. According to the Red Bull website, the two are cousins who have flown together several times.

Red Bull shared a video of the flight Monday, which shows both planes in the nosedive position. Video from Luke Aikin’s viewpoint shows him grabbing onto the aircraft, pulling himself inside, and landing safely.

“I mean, we proved that it was possible,” Aikin said. “We’re pushing boundaries out here, and what’s great is I jumped from one, I got in the other one, we landed, I landed safely.”

The stunt quickly went wrong when, according to the Federal Aviation Administration, one of the two single-engine planes spun out of control.

Farrington was forced to deploy a parachute in order to land safely.

“Yeah, I mean, we’re there. All the numbers matched up and everything like that. Everything should’ve been good to go,” Farrington said. “For some reason, it wasn’t that way, but at the end of the day, we’re both here. We’re both good to go, everybody’s safe and sound, and I guess that’s the important part.”

The FAA said in a statement it denied Red Bull’s request for a safety exemption.

According to Red Bull, the pilots had been training in California but decided the actual challenge would take place in Arizona.

The company also mentioned heat can affect the density of the air and could cause the aircraft to fall quicker, though it’s still unclear what caused the stunt to go wrong.

The FAA says it continues to investigate the crash.

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