After a Red Bull stunt ended with a crashed plane and a government investigation, one of the pilots has come forward to take the blame.
“As project leader and chief pilot, it was entirely my responsibility to operate within the regulatory framework to ensure a successful outcome,” Red Bull Air Force pilot Luke Aikins said in a statement on Friday.
Mr. Aikins and his cousin, Andy Farrington, attempted the “change plane” stunt on April 24. The plan was for each pilot to jump out of his plane, parachute onto the other’s, and land the second plane safely.
Only Mr. Aikins managed to pull it off. Farrington parachuted to the ground, while the plane he was supposed to land crashed in the Arizona desert. Fortunately, no one was injured.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) later announced that it had rejected Red Bull’s request to attempt the stunt, but the company went ahead anyway.
“The FAA will investigate the attempted Red Bull aircraft swap in Arizona on Sunday night,” the agency said. the independent. “The agency on Friday denied the organizer’s request for a waiver from federal regulations covering the safe operation of an aircraft.”
On Friday, Aikins confirmed that the stunt had gone ahead despite the FAA’s denial, but said he alone was to blame.
“I received an email notice on April 22, 2022 from the FAA that no specific waiver was granted and I made a personal decision to go forward with the Plane Swap,” Aikins said.
According to the pilot, he did not tell Red Bull that the FAA had said no.
“I am sorry I did not share this information with my team and those who have supported me,” Aikins said. “I am now turning my attention to transparent cooperative work with regulatory authorities as we review planning and execution.”
In an email to the independentRed Bull praised Mr Aikins for being “honest” about what happened.
“Luke is a brave and highly skilled athlete who has been a friend of Red Bull for many years,” the company said. “He has been completely upfront and honest about his responsibility in this matter. We look forward to continued friendship from him.”
The FAA is currently investigating the incident. Whether he will come to the same conclusion, that Mr. Aikins acted alone, without Red Bull’s knowledge or involvement, remains to be seen. In response to the independentWhen asked for comment, the agency said only that the investigation is ongoing.