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Yes, the upcoming Plane Swap stunt is as insane as it sounds

There are some pitches that are hard to ignore because they’re so, well, mad, and the latest from Red Bull Air Force is one of them. On April 24 two pilots will take two specially modified Cessna 182 aircraft to 14,000 feet, put them into a nosedive, jump out and skydive to the other plane, restart the engine and retake control. The impossible-sounding feat is called Plane Swap, and all the above action needs to take place before any sudden connection with the ground.

Red Bull Plane Swap Cesna aircraft in flight.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Unsurprisingly, this will be a world first, and the concept comes from Red Bull Air Force pilot Luke Aikins, a daredevil who will be well known to anyone familiar with death-defying aerial feats over the past years. He was the first to jump out of a plane and skydive without a parachute (intentionally, of course) on live television, and was part of the consulting team on Felix Baumgartner’s historic Red Bull Stratos mission. He’s joined by Andy Farrington, who has racked up more than 27,000 skydives, and is Aikins’ cousin.

Using standard Cessna aircraft is not an option, and the pair have teamed up with aeronautical engineer Dr. Paulo Iscold to modify the planes so they’re suitable for the unbelievable event. Like Aikins and Farrington, Iscold is no stranger to crazy airborne feats, having co-developed among other aircraft, the Anequim, a record-breaking single-seater capable of 323 mph.

Red Bull Air Force members Luke Aikins and Andy Farrington practicing for the Plane Swap stunt.
Image used with permission by copyright holder

For Plane Swap, he has worked to reverse engineer the autopilot as normally it would attempt to bring the plane out of a nosedive, which isn’t what’s wanted here. The anti-autopilot system is joined by a special airbrake to ensure the aircraft remain not only at the required speed of 140 mph but also maintain stability as they plummet towards the ground.

Ambitious, technically complex, and in all honesty, downright crazy, Plane Swap is sure to be quite a spectacle. The stunt will take place on Sunday, April 24 when it’s exclusively live-streamed on Hulu in the U.S. at 7 p.m. ET or 4 p.m. PT. For the rest of the world, you’ll be able to watch the pair swap planes on Red Bull TV at the same time.

Andy Boxall
Andy is a Senior Writer at Digital Trends, where he concentrates on mobile technology, a subject he has written about for…
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