Rossy Flies the English Channel

Crossing the English Channel was a mile post in early aviation. Now in the 21st century it takes center stage again. On September 26, 2008, Swiss airline pilot Yves “Fusion Man” Rossy crossed from France in to England without an airplane.

Sort of.

Jumping from a plane at more than 8,800 feet (2,500 meters) in the air above Calais, he fired up his jets and made the 22 mile (35 kilometer) trip between Calais and Dover at speeds of up to 120 mph (193 km/h) in 13 minutes.

Rossy was propelled by 4 kerosene-burning jet turbines attached to a wing on his back which he ignited inside the plane just prior to taking the leap, wearing a helmet and flameproof suit resembling those worn by Formula One drivers, to help him withstand the jet exhaust around his legs mounted merely inches from him on the wing.

After a period of free fall the former fighter pilot opened the wing and soared across the water.

The jetpack has no steering controls, so the only way for Rossy to change direction was like a bird, moving his head and back to control the wing’s movement.

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