PAPI lights guide freefall.

When ‘Red Bull Air Force’ skydiver Luke Aikins devised his plan to free fall 25,000 feet without a parachute into a net, his Stride Gum sponsored team called upon Laser Guidance to design a visual reference system to direct his descent to the target.

David Shemwell designed a system utilizing two sets of four LED PAPI lights pointing straight up. An ‘outer quad’ gave general visual cues. A second ‘inner quad’ under the four sides of the net gave crucial last-second positive visual reference. Four white lights indicated a proper glide path. If Luke strayed off target during descent, he would see a red light from the PAPI, indicating a needed course correction to re-align to centerline.

Luke Aikins freefall without a parachute

After exiting the plane at 25,000 feet, Luke gets established on centerline to the target guided by PAPI lights pointed straight up.

Target net from altitude

The view from Luke's helmet cam.

Closer view of target net with PAPI lights

Nearing the net, the four white PAPI lights are clearly visible, indicating proper 'glideslope' to the LZ.

Luke Aikins hit the net

Luke hits the net!

Luke Aikins with Dave Shemwell after jump

Just after his successful jump, Luke (left) is congratulated by Dave Shemwell (right).