You are on page 1of 2

‘Rocket Man’ aims to jet across English Channel

Publication: Times Of India Delhi;Date: Aug 25, 2008;Section: International;Page: 16

‘Rocket Man’ aims to jet across English Channel

John Follain

Paris: A Swiss airline pilot and adventurer, known as Rocket Man, has moved closer to becoming the first
jet-powered bird man to cross the English Channel from France.

Yves Rossy completed a 10-minute test flight last week with his jet-powered wing strapped to his back. He flew
for more than 22 miles, equivalent to a flight from Calais in France to Dover on the English coast — the route first
flown by Louis Bleriot in 1909.

The test flight, which had been postponed several times because of engine problems, saw Rossy jump out of a
small plane 7,500ft above the town of Bex, in Switzerland. Reaching 180mph, he flew through clear skies to
Villeneuve and back.

Rossy, wearing a heat-resistant suit similar to those worn by racing drivers, steered by shifting his weight or
simply turning his head and shoulders. He deployed two parachutes at 5,000ft and 4,000ft to land at Bex airfield with
two litres of fuel left.

Rossy used an 8ft carbon-fibre wing powered by four jet engines. “Everything went well, it was awesome, it’s my
longest flight with this wing. If there are no technical problems it’s okay for the English Channel,” he said. “I can’t wait
for this next challenge.”

Asked how confident he was, he replied: “I did the distance, everything is going swimmingly.”

Rossy is due to cross the Channel to England on September 24, weather permitting. The event will be broadcast
live in 165 countries by the National Geographic Channel. “My flight will be a tribute to all those who came before
me, many of whom were killed,” he said.

The 48-year-old Rossy is a former fighter pilot in the Swiss air force. He has been thinking about how to fly like a
powered bird for 10 years and has transformed the garage of his home in a village near Lake Geneva into a

While experimenting with an earlier version of his wing three years ago, he lost control and spiralled to just 1,600ft
from the ground before managing to open his parachute.

Rossy’s friend and adviser Bruno Brokken, a world champion aeronautic acrobat from Belgium, paid tribute to his
persistence. “Many people would have given up years ago. But he kept trying new ways, new designs, and it finally
succeeded. I wouldn’t do the things he does. You need to be a special kind of person to do that kind of stuff,”
Brokken said.

In May, Rossy staged his first public flight, an acrobatic display over the Alps, including a 360-degree roll which
he admitted afterwards was aimed to “impress the girls”. His trials have cost his sponsors, including the Swiss watch
company Hublot, more than £100,000.

He says he is always strict about safety but “I’m my own biggest danger now”. He added: “You always want to
do more, to achieve this super ability to fly. But if we were really meant to fly, we’d have feathers instead of hair.”

1 of 2 25-Aug-08 1:04 PM
‘Rocket Man’ aims to jet across English Channel

FREEBIRD: Yves Rossi covered a distance of 22 miles last week with his jet-powered wing strapped to his back

2 of 2 25-Aug-08 1:04 PM