Australian stuntman Jim Bailey, known as ''The Human Torpedo,'' fell 500 feet to his death from an airplane while making a film for television, authorities said. Initially, authorities said Baily was performing for ABC-TV's ''That's Incredible,'' but the show's producer denied having any connection with the accident.
Witnesses, including members of the Maui Fire Department and the rescue unit, said Bailey, a resident of Brisbane, Australia, was suspended underneath a single-engine Ballanca by a strap and belt when the belt broke. He hung onto the strap for a few seconds before falling.
Officials said the stunt called for Bailey to hang on under the plane during takeoff and slide to a landing when the plane made a ''touch-and-go'' on the strip.
Bailey had appeared twice on ''That's Incredible.'' In an episode televised Jan. 26, he was dragged behind a car and crashed head-first through a flaming wall.
On Dec. 8, 1980, an episode showed Bailey being dragged behind another car at 165 mph and then skidding 1,300 feet along the pavement. But Alan Landsburg, producer of the ABC show, said there was no connection between Bailey's death and ''That's Incredible.'' ''We have nothing going in Hawaii, we're not working there,'' Landsburg said from his Los Angeles office. ''We've been on hiatus for about three and one-half weeks.
We finished our season and we don't start shooting until June. ''The accident obviously shocks us, but there's no way it could have been our crew filming. I tell you it was not our shoot. The accident was not even remotely connected with ''That's Incredible.'' Landsburg said it was possible the accident involving Bailey was being filmed by a private company and Bailey later planned to sell the film to ''That's Incredible.'' Landsburg said accidents have occurred during previous filming for the show, prompting safeguards.
''We've set absolute limits on what we'll buy due to the accident factor,'' the producer said. ''We've had a few accidents and we didn't want any others. We made it very clear that we wouldn't consider that type of outside purchase.''