Although Yves Rossy claims to be just an ordinary man, this adventurer has accomplished some extraordinary feats. The Switzerland native has been nicknamed the “JetMan” as he has strapped a wing with four mounted jet engines to his back and used his body to act as a fuselage. “I am just a normal man who has realized his dream to fly a little bit like a bird,” he is quoted with saying following a flight over the English Channel.
Rossy has worked on the development of his wing for over a decade according to a 2009 Popular Science article, funding it through much of his own money until 2007 when Swiss watch company Hublot began a sponsorship. The suit itself requires all of his piloting knowledge and skill sets (he flew fighter jets in the Swiss army and has been an Airbus captain for Swiss International Air Lines). According to Eric Hagerman of Popular Science, the wing does not possess any steering apparatus, i.e. no toggles or stick. Rossy’s body acts as the fuselage and the rudder, and he steers by turning his head, arching his back, or slightly dropping a foot. One of his hands is used to control the thrust output provided by the four JetCat engines mounted to his fiberglass and carbon-fiber skeleton wing. These engines provide approximately 194 lbs of thrust and are modified versions of those used on model aircraft. The jet fuel is stored in two 3.5 gallon fiberglass tanks inside the wing with a fully-fueled wing weighing in at 121 lbs.
Rossy’s latest flight took place on May 7, 2011 when he took on the Grand Canyon, marking his first U.S. flight. The flight lasted approximately eight minutes as Rossy flew 200 feet over the canyon rim on the Hualapai (WAHL’-uh-peye) Reservation, according to the Associated Press. Rossy began his flight by leaping from a helicopter 8,000 feet above the canyon floor; during the flight Rossy reached speeds of 190 mph. To land safely on the canyon floor, he powered down his engines and deployed his parachute.
According to an article by Clay Dillow for Popular Science, the flight was originally scheduled a week or so earlier; however, the FAA was unsure how to classify his flying apparatus so the flight was postponed.