Aikins completed his swap. Farrington approached his plane but was unable to enter. His aircraft appeared to have entered a spin. Aikins landed his plane while Farrington’s plane deployed its parachute and crashed. Farrington landed safely with his parachute. Thankfully, nobody was hurt.


However, as WDSU reports, the stunt has sparked an investigation with the FAA. Not just because of the crashed plane, but because the regulator didn’t approve of either plane being empty for the stunt. The Code of Federal Regulations for General Operating and Flight Rules states:

§ 91.105 Flight crewmembers at stations.

(a) During takeoff and landing, and while en route, each required flight crewmember shall -

(1) Be at the crewmember station unless the absence is necessary to perform duties in connection with the operation of the aircraft or in connection with physiological needs; and

(2) Keep the safety belt fastened while at the crewmember station.

Allowing a plane to be empty comes at odds with this regulation, but it was something that the skydivers prepared for. Aikins petitioned for a waiver to § 91.105 for their stunt. Aikins supported his petition by listing all of Red Bull’s safety precautions and by noting that the stunt is in the public interest.


However, the FAA denied the request two days before the stunt, citing safety concerns and rebuking the claim that the plane swap was in the public interest.

Image for article titled Skydiving Pilots Try to Swap Planes In Mid-Air, Causing Crash And An FAA Investigation
Screenshot: FAA

The regulator noted that the stunt could continue if they have pilots in the cockpits during the swap. The stunt continued anyway, disobeying the denial by proceeding without anyone at the controls during the swap.

The FAA is investigating this incident alongside the NTSB, with a preliminary report likely to be released in the coming weeks. At this time it’s unclear why the second plane entered a spin. What Red Bull and its skydivers have in store is also unclear, but we’ve seen what the FAA will do when pilots do something wrong.