Pilot Briefing

A man and his wing loop the loop

January 1, 2011

Yvs Rossy looped the loop in his personal wing.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 tiny engines already started on his wing. The German-made JetCat P200 jet engines were originally designed for model airplanes. In case you are thinking about trying this yourself, the U.S. dealer for the JetCat engines gets a call a week from ultralight pilots, but prefers not to sell them to daredevils.

Rossy climbs at more than 1,000 fpm at 111 mph, hits 186 mph in a descent, and cruises at 124 mph. Each engine generates less than 50 pounds of thrust. He carries eight gallons of fuel—enough for a five- to 10-minute flight. For the loop, he used a newly designed wing for aerobatics that was shorter than the original wing, and is only 6.5 feet long.

Rossy, a former military and airline pilot, made the historic loop November 5, 2010, 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.

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 fly the Grand Canyon—a plan he announced a year ago. A National Park Service employee in the Grand Canyon headquarters office said that, given current bans on paragliding, it will be difficult for Rossy to get a permit.


Say what?

Test yourself with these aviation quiz questions
By AOPA Pilot staff

  1. True or false: A pilot who strays from an assigned altitude can cover for his or her mistake by quickly adjusting the barometric pressure in the Kollsman window to display the proper altitude.
  2. Name the hefty high-wing, four-seat airplane that won both the cross-country and pylon categories in the 1935 Cleveland Air Races.
  3. Charles Lindbergh and writer Anne Morrow (later Anne Morrow Lindbergh) first met in December 1927, in
    A. Paris
    B. New York
    C. St. Louis
    D. Mexico City
  4. Which Lindbergh, Charles or Anne, won the Pulitzer Prize for literature?
  5. What aircraft type is the only one ever used by both the U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the U.S. Navy Blue Angels?

See answers below.

Burt Rutan to retire in spring

Usually “long and distinguished” is just a platitude rustled up at retirement time to describe someone’s career, but Burt Rutan really has had a long career, and as the world knows, a distinguished one.

Rutan, the founder of Scaled Composites in Mojave, California, has decided to retire next April after nearly 40 years of designing aircraft—including the nation’s first passenger spaceship.

Prior to forming the Rutan Aircraft Factory in 1974, he was a flight test engineer for the U.S. Air Force. His factory developed experimental homebuilt aircraft for kit builders. Rutan will assume the title of founder and chairman emeritus.

Nearly all of his 45-year career was spent in California’s Antelope Valley. Rutan’s company designed SpaceShipOne, which successfully achieved repeated suborbital flights in 2004 to win the $10 million Ansari X Prize. A second-generation spaceship will take tourists on a suborbital flight for Sir Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic company.


Greg Poe reaches out to kids

Greg Poe introduced middle schoolers to the joys of flight.Airshow star Greg Poe has spoken to more than 10,000 middle-school students in his campaign to encourage students to work hard and accomplish their goals. He set the target for himself early in 2010, and reached it by giving talks to schools in the towns where he performed. Poe’s Elevate Your Life program was formed following the loss of his son, Ryan, to heroin addiction in August 2002. He set up a foundation named after his son, The Ryan J. Poe Foundation, to fund his campaign. Poe’s goal is to help youngsters realize their dreams and tap their hidden potential. Under the program, most schools host an essay contest, and the winners get to fly with Poe in his airshow aircraft. Poe plans to increase the program’s impact in 2011 with new features and a goal to reach even more kids.


CAP contacting WWII members

Were you in the Civil Air Patrol during World War II? The CAP is looking for members who served between December 7, 1941, and August 15, 1945, who were at least 18 years old during at least part of that service. The search was prompted by legislation pending in both houses of Congress that, if passed, would award a single Congressional Gold Medal to the CAP for the service of its members during the war. This search includes those who are living but not currently active in CAP as well as deceased members. Substantiation of CAP service may be required.

Names, with contact information—or, in the case of deceased members, names along with the name of a close relative or friend and their contact information—should be sent to: Civil Air Patrol Public Affairs, 105 S. Hansell Street, Maxwell AFB, Alabama 36112. E-mails can be sent to paa@capnhq.gov.


National Air and Space Museum opens new gallery

Baron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery at the National Air and Spce Museum.The National Air and Space Museum in Washington, D.C., has opened the new Baron Hilton Pioneers of Flight Gallery. The gallery highlights the first half of the twentieth century.

Among the pioneers to be honored are Charles Lindbergh, Amelia Earhart, and rocket pioneer Robert Goddard.

Noteworthy aircraft in the gallery include the Fokker T–2, Douglas World Cruiser Chicago, Lindbergh’s Lockheed Sirius that was used to survey a great-circle route to the Orient, Amelia Earhart’s Lockheed Vega, and the Explorer II high-altitude balloon gondola.


Say Again? Answers Col. and Mrs. Charles Lindbergh

  1. False. ATC radar reads pressure altitude from the Mode C transponder, and it’s unaffected by adjusting the barometric pressure.
  2. Benny Howard’s DGA-6, better known as Mr. Mulligan.
  3. D. Mexico City. Anne Morrow was with her father, Dwight Morrow, then the American ambassador to Mexico.
  4. Charles for The Spirit of St. Louis (nonfiction, autobiography) in 1954.
  5. McDonnell Douglas F–4 Phantom (Thunderbirds: 1969-1973 and Blue Angels: 1969-1974).

Do you have suggestions for aviation quiz questions that will stump other pilots? Send your questions to pilot@aopa.org.

Al Marsh

Alton K. Marsh | "AOPA Pilot" Senior Editor, AOPA

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.