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PICTURE: FusionMan conquers the Channel

The Swiss pilot known as Fusion Man has flown across the English Channel strapped under his jet-powered personal wing.

Yves Rossy landed in Dover at 13:19 on Thursday after his launch aircraft took off from Calais, France. At more than 2,500m (8,200ft), Rossy leapt from a Pilatus Porter, unfolded his 2.4m wing and engaged its four tiny jet motors. He made the 35.4 km trip in under 10min at estimated speeds of 161km/h (100mph), gently contorting his body the whole way in lieu of control surfaces.

“I only have one word, thank you, to all the people who did it with me,” he said to reporters after deploying his parachute and drifting down. Spectators cheered as he landed. The flight was covered flight live by the National Geographic television station.  

In September 2004 Rossy became the first person to fly horizontally under two jet engines attached to a similar wing. Rossy displayed the FusionMan gear in Geneva during the Exhibition of Inventions in April 2007 and in May he invited world press to observe him darting over the Alps.


©Yves Rossy 

His sponsors, notably Swiss watchmaker Hublot, spent $285,000 to construct the FusionMan apparatus, but won’t say when it might be commercially available. Its four jet engines are developed by Jet-Cat, jumbo versions of model aircraft powerplants. Rossy wears a heat-resistant suit and helmet, and a hand throttle determines speed.

The Swiss Air Force veteran currently is a pilot for Swiss International Airlines. Now, he says he’ll be flying at expos and air shows to continue a varied series of daredevil feats.  Rossy has also glided across Lake Geneva on a 2.5m inflatable wing and sky surfed off the top of a hot air balloon.

Thursday’s English Channel flight was postponed twice this week while waiting for ideal weather.