April 22, 2011
By Alton K. Marsh
Public relations specialists for Grand Canyon West have announced that a flight above the Grand Canyon will be made May 6 by Jetman, the name used by Swiss pilot Yves Rossy when he flies with a jet-powered wing on his back. Each flight ends by parachuting to the ground (or in one case, water).
Grand Canyon West is the name given to Grand Canyon recreational assets owned by the Hualapai Indians (pronounced walla pie), including the Grand Canyon Skywalk jutting from a cliff 4,000 feet above the canyon floor. It lies a five-hour drive from Grand Canyon National Park headquarters and is outside the park boundary.
Rossy expressed interest in flying the Grand Canyon in 2009 and repeated his intent in 2010.
An FAA official who asked not to be identified said he is in charge of granting, or not granting, an airspace waiver for the flight; so far he has not received an application for an airspace waiver. It will be required for the flight. He was frustrated in that there is no FAA classification for what can be termed, for want of a better name, a mancraft. The FAA official said he must determine what to call a flight using a jet-powered wing strapped to a parachutist’s back. “It is a powered parachute? Is it a parachute jump? Is it an airplane?”
The helicopter flight is to depart from Grand Canyon West Airport, which a Grand Canyon West publicist said is reopening its runway “…at the same time.” The main sponsor is Breitling, a company that has sponsored past Jetman flights.
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.
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