A skydiver has leaped out of a plane at 25,000 feet without a parachute to land safely in the California desert.

American Luke Aikins, who had more than 18,000 jumps, made history by becoming the first person to leap without a parachute and land in a net instead.

After a two-minute freefall, Aikins landed dead centre in the 100 x100ft net at the Big Sky movie ranch on the outskirts of Simi Valley, California.

As cheers erupted, Mr Aikins quickly climbed out, walked over and hugged his wife Monica, who had been watching from the ground with their four-year-old son Logan and other family members.

Aikins used a ‘mystery device’ to make his perilous descent, shown during a live television broadcast dubbed “Heaven Sent”.

Before the stunt it was claimed the married 42 year-old third-generation skydiver, who has made about 18,000 jumps in his 25-year career, used only air currents and ‘nothing but the clothes on his back’.

“I’m almost levitating. It’s incredible, this thing that just happened,” Luke said after making the “perfect landing.

“The words I want to say I can’t even get out of my mouth,” he told Fox Carolina.

Aikins revealed just before climbing into his plane that the Screen Actors Guild had ordered him to wear a parachute to ensure his safety.

He said he considered pulling out at that point because having the parachute canister on his back would make his landing in the net far more dangerous. If he had to wear it he said he would not bother to pull the ripcord anyway.

“I’m going all the way to the net, no question about it,” he said from the plane. “I’ll just have to deal with the consequences when I land of wearing the parachute on my back and what it’s going to do to my body.”

A few minutes before the jump, one of the show’s hosts said the requirement had been lifted. Aikins left the plane without the chute.

He jumped with three other skydivers, each wearing parachutes. One had a camera, another trailed smoke so people on the ground could follow his descent and the third took off an oxygen canister after they got to an altitude where it was no longer needed.

Then the others opened their parachutes and left him on his own.

He was due to land on his back on equipment which organisers would only describe as a ‘slide’.

Aikins, who claims it will be a world record for jumping without a parachute, previously worked with Felix Baumgartner on the Austrian daredevil’s 2012 record skydive which started 24 miles above the earth.

Aikins has done movie stunt work for blockbusters like Godzilla and Iron man 3, serves as a safety and training advisor for the United States Parachute Association (USPA), and provides advanced skydiving training to elite military special forces.

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