British daredevil leaps from plane without parachute

Posted at 05/25/2012 12:13 PM | Updated as of 05/25/2012 12:14 PM

LONDON, England - A British stuntman became the world's first skydiver to land without a parachute on Wednesday, falling 731 meters (2,400 feet) to drop safely onto a crash-pad of cardboard boxes.

Wearing a specially-made "wing suit", Gary Connery leapt from a helicopter over Henley-on-Thames in southern England, aiming -- with his life hanging in the balance -- at a "runway" of 18,000 cardboard boxes.

After plunging at a speed of approximately 130 kilometers (80 miles) an hour the 41-year-old landed successfully onto the boxes, but the anxious crowd had to wait several minutes before he emerged from the pile.

Connery, who has appeared as a stuntman in films including "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets" and the Bond movie "Die Another Day", said the experience had been "absolutely amazing".

"I'm in a strange space, if I'm totally honest," he told Sky News. "I guess I haven't digested what's just happened."

"(The landing) was so comfortable, so soft -- my calculations obviously worked out and I'm glad they did," he added.

Connery's wife Vivienne said simply: "I'm relieved it's all over."

The stuntman trained for weeks in Switzerland and Italy ahead of the jump, leaping from mountains and cliffs to practise gliding in his wing suit.

Connery, who made his first parachute jump aged 23 after joining the British army and has since jumped from the Eiffel Tower and the London Eye, studied the flight of kite birds to improve his technique in the wing suit.

US skydiver Jeb Corliss had planned to become the first person to land without a parachute, but was forced to abandon his plans after he was seriously injured jumping from South Africa's Table Mountain in January.

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