November 9, 2010
By Alton K. Marsh
Yves Rossy flew a loop for the first time with the aid of a wing strapped on his back, four jet engines each the size of a loaf of bread, and his body. He has made several previous flights with the wing, including one crossing the English Channel. He lands by parachute after each five- to 10-minute flight.
This time his launch platform was a hot-air balloon. Usually he leaps from an aircraft with the engines already started on his wing. The German-made JetCat P200 jet engines were originally designed for model airplanes. They are built in Germany’s Black Forest region in the towns of Staufen and Ballrechten-Dottinger in southwest Germany.
Rossy normally climbs at more than 1,000 fpm at 111 mph, hits 186 mph in a descent, and cruises in level flight at 124 mph. Each engine generates less than 50 pounds of thrust. He carries eight gallons of fuel. He used a newly designed wing for aerobatics that was shorter than the original wing, and is only 6.5 feet long. The wing design began as an inflatable wing based on a Ukrain design, but wasn’t rigid enough and evolved into a composite wing.
Rossy, a former military pilot and airline pilot, made the historic loop Nov. 5 in Switzerland after launching in the Espirit Breitling Orbiter balloon. He had difficulty starting his engines (they have a 25-second autostart sequence), but once they were all going, he jumped from a platform just outside the balloon gondola at 7,800 feet. ( Watch video of the flight.)
He made not one loop, but two. “It was fantastic,” Rossy said. “The flight went well, despite a little problem when starting my engines. I was able to do my two loopings, and I am very happy.”
Rossy wants the sport of jet-wing flying to expand, and hopes to organize a formation flight with friends. At the rate he is checking off goals, it is safe to assume he will make a strong effort to fly the Grand Canyon—a plan he announced a year ago. A National Park Service employee in the Grand Canyon headquarters office said, given current bans on paragliding, that it would be difficult for Rossy to get a permit to fly the Grand Canyon.
Photo Credit: André Bernet
AOPA Pilot Senior Editor Alton Marsh has been a pilot since 1970 and has an airline transport pilot certificate and instrument and multiengine flight instructor certificates, aerobatic training, and a commercial seaplane certificate.
As the cold weather chills AOPA’s Headquarters in Frederick, many of us are inside generating new resources for flying clubs.
In my house, every Friday night is “Movie Night.” While the movies are rarely educational (I don’t think I learned anything from the Lego Movie), we look forward to the weekly opportunity to spend time together. Why not use the same concept for your Flying Club (with the addition of education, of course)?
AOPA Flying Club Manager Kelby Ferwerda posted the following on the AOPA Flying Club Facebook Page: “Recently I’ve talked with quite a few Flying Clubs about maintaining social activity through the cold winter months. Some clubs host Holliday Parties, others have Potluck Movie Nights. What does your club do to keep members involved during the chilly months?”
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