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6:47pm UK, Wednesday May 23, 2012
A stuntman has entered the history books to become the first skydiver to land safely without using a parachute.
Gary Connery, 42, leapt 2,400ft from a helicopter while wearing a specially made “wing suit” and swooped towards a “runway” of 18,600 cardboard boxes in an Oxfordshire field.
Five seconds before he hit the target he flared his suit to decrease his descent and glide angle before plunging into the boxes to break his fall.
Mr Connery jumped from 2,400ft without using a parachute, followed by a skydiving cameraman
“It was so comfortable, so soft,” Mr Connery told Sky News afterwards.
“My calculations obviously worked out and I’m glad they did.”
His flight lasted approximately 50 seconds, during which he was cheered on by hundreds of supporters, including his son Cali, 14, and wife Vivian, who said she was “relieved it’s all over”.
The jump, which was recorded by dozens of journalists and camera crews, is expected to be watched all over the world.
Mr Connery’s suit was specially designed
It had taken 100 volunteers and friends six hours to build the landing strip, which was 350ft long, 40ft wide and 12ft high.
On the approach to the runway the words “Go Gary” were spelt with cardboard boxes.
The stunt had originally been planned to take place in April, but weeks of wet weather forced Mr Connery, from Oxfordshire, to postpone the jump.
His team had to obtain special permission from the Civil Aviation Authority.
Following Mr Connery out of the helicopter was fellow wing suit pilot Mark Sutton, who filmed the stunt up until the last moment before deploying his parachute and landing safely.
As part of the preparations, Mr Connery, who has performed stunts in films such as Batman Begins and The Beach, studied the flight of kite birds and how they use their tail to control flight.
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:: Below – follow the stunt as seen by the Sky team (on the ground)