Man 'flies' across English Channel
A Swiss man has become the first person to fly across the English Channel using a single jet-propelled wing. 'Fusionman' Yves Rossy made the 36km journey from Calais to Dover in 10 minutes at a speed of around 200km per hour.
VIDEO: Watch a video of Yves Rossy performing a test flight of the jet-propelled wing.
Mr Rossy began the historic flight in a vertical skydive from an airplane with the wing harnessed to his back. Once in freefall, he extended the wings to their full 9 foot width and ignited the turbine engines before levelling out through a 90 degree turn toward the English Channel. Some 10 minutes later, Mr Rossy deployed a parachute and glided down to a field at the site of Marconi's wireless experiment 'Ship to Shore' at Dover.
The 'Fusion' wing is steered entirely by Yves Rossy's body movement; by turning his head left and right and by arching his shoulders forward or backward. This 15th prototype of the 55kg wing consists of materials used mainly in the construction of model airplanes. A carbon fibre frame gives the the wing its strength, and a lightweight foam and fibreglass composite fills the interior. The four turbine engines were designed only for model airplanes, but the 20kg thrust given by each turbine provides the requiste power to fly at 200 km per hour.
The turbines must be perfectly mounted on the wing; a misalignment of 2mm can send the wing into an uncontrollable spin, as has happened to Mr Rossy in the past. On one occasion he was forced to jettison the wing but later learned how to restore control of the wings by bringing his hands forward to his head.
Before each flight the engines are calibrated by attaching a laser and projecting their position onto a vertical measurement 5 metres away. A modified tube is also attached to the rear of the wings to direct engine parts beyond Yves Rossy's legs should the engine explode.
An experienced skydiver, Yves Rossi is a former fighter pilot with the Swiss Army. He currently works as an airbus pilot with SwissAir. His next ambitions are to achieve a vertical take-off using 'Fusion' wings and to develop the technology to be more widely accessible.