FAA to Investigate Red Bull Stunt After Plane Crashed During Midair Swap Attempt

The FAA said it denied a request on Friday from organizers to get an exemption from federal regulations

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The Federal Aviation Association said it would be looking into an attempt by two pilots to switch planes midair Sunday. The Red Bull-hosted event in Arizona ended with one of the planes crashing, though both pilots reached the ground safely.

The pair of skydiving masters, who are also cousins, had planned the weekend stunt to swap planes in midair in hopes of setting a new aviation milestone.

But the FAA said it denied a request on Friday from organizers to get an exemption from regulations that cover the safe operation of aircraft. It is unclear how that decision impacted Sunday's event.

Red Bull Media House is a global multi-media company that organized the Sunday event over Phoenix. The plane swap, described by Red Bull as a world first, was to be streamed on Hulu, its exclusive streaming partner. A trailer on Hulu's website teased "no one at the controls" and "1 moment to watch."

The company said Red Bull athletes Luke Aikins and Andy Farrington would pitch their Cessna 182 planes into a synchronized nosedive at 14,000 feet (4,000 meters), stopping the engines while a custom-manufactured airbrake held the planes in a controlled-descent speed of 140 mph (225 kph).

The pilots would then exit their respective aircraft and skydive into each other’s planes, crossing over each other mid-air and regaining control in under one minute. The plane swap is the brainchild of Aikens.

One of the two single-engine Cessna 182 aircraft used in the stunt, however, crashed after appeared it spun out of control not long after the pilot left the controls. The pilot deployed his parachute and landed safely.

Red Bull said before the event that the planned feat has undergone hours of research and development to ensure it was a success.

Copyright Associated Press
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