Watching to famous skydiver attempt the death-defying feat was nerve-wracking enough for viewers at home but it sounds like getting the stunt green-lit was even more dramatic than the jump itself. Obviously, anytime someone wants to go on air and possibly kill themselves in the name of entertainment, a few hoops must first be jumped through. While Fox was seemingly okay with the whole Mission Impossible stunt, the good people at SAG-AFTRA weren’t so keen on the fact that Aikins might splat in front of millions of people watching from home instead of landing in the designated safety-area — a giant net meant to catch him before he hit the dirt.
Aikins had practiced and made calculations for the fall plenty of time before the actual jump, but just a few days before the event was scheduled to air live, the union informed his team he wouldn’t be allowed to launch from the plane without a parachute strapped on.
The union issued a “Do Not Work” order for the show, claiming producers hadn’t signed the necessary contracts. Producers fired back, saying they wanted to sign the contract but the union felt the event was too dangerous and therefore wouldn’t sign off on the show. If Fox went ahead with the event, dozens of workers could lose their jobs.
To say Aikins was less than pleased about the last-minute addition of a parachute would be an understatement.
“Less than 24 hours ago, I was informed that I’m gonna have to wear a parachute to do this jump,” he said. “That adds a complication that didn’t exist before. I was clean and I was gonna land on my back. The powers that be have decided that it’s safer for me to wear a parachute.”
As ironic as this whole thing is — most people would be thrilled to know they have a device harnessed to their body that could potentially save their life if something went wrong — it’s understandable that Aikins would be frustrated as the whole premise of the show hung on the fact he would be jumping without a parachute, something he’d planned for for weeks.
Just a few minutes before the skydiver was set to jump, producers got word that Aikins would be able to jump without a parachute. He quickly un-rigged himself and completed the stunt with no complications — he also made history.
Unions: always trying to ruin the fun by making sure people wanting to risk their lives for ratings are safe.