Profile - Luke Aikins | D-21189
Luke Aikins, D-21189, has a long skydiving heritage. His grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles and cousins are all skydivers at Kapowsin Air Sports in Shelton, Washington. Aikins is a member of the Red Bull Air Force and travels the world with the team, performing exhibition jumps, VIP tandems and more. Aikins is also the owner of Para Tactics, which provides advanced skydiving training to elite military forces such as the U.S. Navy SEALs.
Birthplace: Corpus Christi, Texas
Marital Status: Married to Monica Aikins
Children: One baby boy, Logan, born January 9, 2012
Occupation: Member of the Red Bull Air Force and owner of Para Tactics
Education: High school and the rough streets of Kapowsin Air Field
Pet Peeves: Bro hugs and stupid hand jives with everyone on the plane every jump
Sponsors: Contour, Cookie Composites, Crye Precision, Kapowsin Air Sports, Larsen & Brusgaard, LiquidSky Sports, Oakley, Precision Aerodynamics, Red Bull, Velocity Sports Equipment
Container: Velocity Sports Equipment Infinity
Main Canopy: Precision Aerodynamics Xaos-27 (101 square feet)
Reserve Canopy: Precision Aerodynamics R-Max 148
AAD: Advanced Aerospace Designs Vigil
Year of First Jump: A static-line jump in 1989
USPA Licenses, Ratings and Appointments: C-21188 and D-21189; Static-Line, Instructor-Assisted Deployment, Tandem and Accelerated Freefall Instructor; Coach Examiner; PRO Rating; Safety & Training Advisor
Total Number of Jumps: Estimate 15,000-plus (logbook is very poor)
Total Number of Cutaways: 25-plus
How long do you plan on skydiving?
Forever. Duh! Winning!
What is your jump philosophy?
A great skydiver is a well-rounded skydiver—don’t limit yourself to one discipline. Accuracy and awareness will save your life.
Of all of your skydives, is there one that stands out most?
There are two: The first time I jumped into Seahawk Stadium with the game ball (I grew up in Washington state as a Seahawks fan); also, the last family jump with my grampa and the rest of the family. It was an all blood-family 11-way.
Who has been your skydiving mentor?
My grampa Lenny Aikins. He started our whole family skydiving back in 1960 and jumped solo up to the age of 86.
Do you have any suggestions for students?
Learn the basics first. Don’t be in a rush. Too many students skip the basics: accuracy and relative work. Become a well-rounded skydiver.
What has been your most embarrassing moment in skydiving?
A 1998 RW [aka relative work, now called formation skydiving] world record tryout camp in Monterey, California. Roger Nelson gave me the glory slot … on a 60-way. I decided to showboat and do a 360 in the middle. … I funneled 40-plus people at breakoff altitude. I then crawled over their backs and was the first one out of the funnel. Roger pulled me aside and only asked me if it was going to ever happen again. I said no, and that summer in Chicago, we built a 240-something world record.
Is there one jump you would like to do over again?
In 1995, I toggle hook-turned my Jonathan 136 while wearing Tevas®. We had not figured out the front-riser thing yet. I shattered my left foot and ankle. I am reminded of my mistake every time I put weight on my foot.
What do you consider your most significant life achievement?
It sounds corny and makes me want to barf, but it is true: marrying my wife, Monica, and having my son, Logan.
Do you have any suggestions for USPA?
We do not need more rules or ratings; we need education. In the last year or so, I feel that USPA is starting to educate people. We will never stop people from hooking in, but we can stop canopy collisions. I am not a huge BASE jumper, but I do BASE jump, and I think it is silly that Parachutist won’t even talk about it. I do about 35 demos a year, and on every demo kids ask two things: “Have you ever BASE jumped?” and, “Have you ever flown a squirrel suit?” We need to capitalize on what is cool at the time to help our sport grow.
What has been your best skydiving moment?
One of the coolest was being on the four-person U.S. Para-Ski Team with my brother Nick Aikins, cousin Andy Farrington and cousin Keri Bell.
What’s the best thing about being a member of Red Bull Air Force?
I used to share hotel rooms, sell my old parachutes and barely scrape by to go to swoop comps, hoping to win money. Now, I jump in front of thousands of people into venues that I only dreamed about, the whole time being treated like a rock star. Red Bull gives me the opportunity to pursue almost any good idea that I can come up with; they help me to push my limits without pushing me.
What is the Stratos Project, and what is your role in it?
Red Bull Stratos is a mission where Felix Baumgartner will attempt to jump from higher (120,000 feet) and go faster (break the speed of sound) than anyone who has gone before. My job on this awesome project is as skydiving consultant, test jumper, videographer and [research and development] of the skydiving equipment. I took a design to Kelly [Farrington] at Velocity Sports Equipment, and … we put together and tested a one-of-a-kind parachute system for this project. I, along with Felix, am responsible for the skydiving portion of this record-breaking jump. I never thought I would meet Joe Kittinger [who jumped from 102,000 feet in 1960], let alone hang out and work side by side with him on a jump that will break his epic 50-year-old record. I am just part of an unbelievably talented team that Art Thompson at Sage Cheshire Aerospace has brought together to accomplish this mission.
Who have been some of the people you have taken for a first jump?
One of the coolest was NASCAR driver Brian Vickers. We did not do a tandem—Andy Farrington and I taught him an AFF course at the Orlando wind tunnel then went out to [Skydive] DeLand and took him on his first skydive three days before [the] Daytona . That is the most nervous I have ever been ground controlling a student in [for landing]. Brian is now a USPA lifetime member with a B license and over 80 jumps. I would call Brian a friend and a skydiver.
Your training of Navy SEALs is probably classified, but what can you say about these highly trained individuals?
I am proud to be an American, and I would not want to be a bad guy.
Explain Luke Aikins in five words or fewer:
100 percent f’ing awesome and humble.