Expatica news

Swiss man to rocket across English Channel

25 September 2008

LONDON — Swiss pilot Yves Rossy is set to cross the English Channel strapped to a homemade jet-propelled wing, organisers said Thursday.

Weather permitting, Rossy will leap from a plane flying more than 2,500 metres off the ground, fire up his jets and try to make the 35-kilometre from Calais in France to Dover in England in about 12 minutes, according to a statement put out by his organisers.

In his first public demonstration of the device in May, Rossy turned figure-eights high above the Alps, performing fluid loops from one side of the Rhone valley to the other.

Thursday’s trip is meant to trace the route of French aviator Louis Bleriot, the first person to cross the Channel in an airplane 99 years ago. Rossy has told the AP he one day hopes to fly through the Grand Canyon.

The carbon composite-wing weighs about 55 kilograms when loaded with fuel, and carries four kerosene-burning jet turbines to keep him aloft. The wing has no steering devices – Rossy moves his body to control its movements.

He wears a heat-resistant suit similar to that worn by firefighters and racing drivers to protect him from the heat of the turbines. The cooling effect of the wind and high altitude also prevent him from getting too hot.

Organisers said cameras installed in the launch plane, on a helicopter following Rossy, and on the jet-wing itself will relay images of the trip live online.

[AP / Expatica]