Winged Swiss flies across English Channel

September 28th, 2008 - 1:38 pm ICT by IANS  

London, Sep 28 (IANS) Man can fly on wings. Yves Rossy, a Swiss pilot, clapped on a pair of jet-propelled wings and flew over the English Channel. Unlike Icarus, he did not fall from the sky, but landed safely.He took off from Calais, France Saturday afternoon, reaching Dover, Britain - a span of 35 km across the Channel - in 13 minutes.

Dressed in a spacesuit and with the pair of wings, Rossy boarded a plane, ascended to 8,200 feet, and set fire to the kerosene in tanks attached to the wings.

“See you the other side,” he waved at his team before launching himself.

Hurtling down, he extended the eight foot wings strapped to his back, thus ending his free-fall and swooped into level flight.

Rossy then throttled up his four little but noisy jets, accelerating in level flight to over 100 knots and headed out towards the Channel.

The only instruments on his wing were a throttle and a rip cord to abandon the wing should anything go wrong. And on his person, an audio altimeter attached to his helmet and his wristwatch.

He used his body to control his flight. To steer, climb or descend he moves his head and limbs slightly, a skill he first learned as a sky-diver. “I fuse with my machine. It was my dream as a boy to be a bird,” he said after touchdown, as reported by The Times.

It felt “great, really great”, said the 49-year-old, when he had disentangled himself from his parachute. “I only have one thing to say: thank you, to all the people who did it with me.”

He had abandoned his original plan to fly Thursday because of bad weather.

Rossy is the first winged man to fly. Exactly 99 years ago, Frenchman Louis Bleriot became the first powered aeroplane pilot to fly the Channel. Balloon and dirigible pilots did it before Bleriot.

The world’s latest aviation pioneer has only a weekend to absorb the adrenalin. On Monday, he takes command of his usual “office” - the captain’s seat in a Swiss International Airbus 320 in which he will fly tourists to Luxor and Sharm El Sheikh.

The prototype for the wings on his back was first developed in Ukraine, but Rossy has spent years perfecting it, bringing its weight down to about 120lb when the fuel tanks are full, according to The Independent. Rossy and his sponsors have spent over 100,000 pounds on the wing.

Four Jet-Cat P200 engines are used on the jetpack - each has a thrust of 22 kg. They can be switched off in 25 seconds. The fuel used was a mixture of kerosene - aircraft fuel - and turbine oil to keep the system lubricated.

The wingspan of the device is 2.5 metres, including a 1.8-metre central section and two foldable wing flaps. It is made of Kevlar. Its average speed is 200 kmph. The wing can climb 300 metres a minute. During descent, it can reach 300 kmph.

Rossy is now thinking about flying over the Grand Canyon. His ultimate ambition is to form a team to do aerobatics, like the Red Arrows, on fixed wings.

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