Gary Connery makes history as the first skydiver to land without a parachute

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As human beings, we’re curious creatures and have sought ways to achieve inhuman feats, whether it’s deep-sea diving, breaking sound barriers, or flying. For the daredevils that dream of wings at night, the one feat that has been too dangerous for skydivers has been the feat of landing a jump without the use of a parachute. But it can be done, and Gary Connery has proven it. Recently, the English skydiver and stuntman became the first in the world to land without the help of a parachute.

From 2,400 feet above the earth at Temple Island Meadows, Connery leapt from a helicopter in a customized wingsuit, likened to the look of winged squirrel, and tailored particularly for this occasion. While in reality his landing would be cushioned by a 350-foot long, 50-foot wide and 12-foot high cardboard box landing strip, an extraordinary amount of preparation was required to avoid an otherwise certain death. Connery is a seasoned pro and has to his credit, over 880 skydives and 450 base jumps. He also boasts Hollywood stunt-double experience in the Indiana Jones films, Die Another Day, Batman Begins and others.

We’ve all had dreams of flapping our wings or soaring with the birds, and according to Connery his preparation had in fact been inspired by the flying habits of kite birds. His decent and landing mimicked the bird’s flight. To survive his jump, he had to slow his gliding speed to 50mph from his 80mph free fall, while slowing his vertical landing speed to a comfortable 15mph.

Humans are pushing the limits of what we’re physically capable of. James Cameron recently set the record for traveling to the deepest part of the earth in a solo dive, while later this year, Felix Baumgartner and Red Bull are preparing for his attempt to break the record for the world’s highest skydive (currently set at a whopping 102,000 feet). Connery is among these men who are looking to push our human capabilities, and while it’s crazy, you can’t help but to respect these people for their commitment to see just how far a human being can go. To an extent, they’re hacking life.

Check out the video of the jump below.

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