November 19, 2013
With a nickname like Jetman, you’d think Yves Rossy would be a cartoon character or the hero in a new comic book series.
Yet Rossy is a down-to-Earth aviator who made headlines throughout the United States this summer and fall, visiting and flying his jet-powered wing at events such as EAA AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wis. and the National Championship Air Races in Reno. Then in November, he made headlines in Japan when he flew his unique jet-powered wingsuit above Mount Fuji nine times as part of a celebration of the mountain’s official designation as a World Heritage Site, BBC reported.
During a press conference in Oshkosh, the Swiss pilot and inventor said he started developing his carbon-Kevlar jetwing nearly 20 years ago because he wanted to fly like a bird. With a span of about 7.9 feet, the jetwing uses four jet engines, fueled by kerosene, with each developing about 48.4 pounds of thrust. Using his own body to steer, Rossy can reach speeds up to 190 mph.
Rossy said he flies with no gauges to monitor the engines, altitude or airspeed. But "we have instruments: the name is 'senses,'" he said. "You can tell when you put your hand out the window [of a car]. That's exactly what I have, the pressure on my shoulders and arms… I don’t need instruments.”
Rossy calls his body his “fuselage,” since his shoulders, body and legs help him pitch and descend. He says he must keep fit to perform the maneuvers, but he has no physical training regimen beyond engaging in activities he enjoys. "I don't like to be in the gym and lift tons of things - a minimum of fun with a maximum of effort," he says. "I prefer maximum fun with minimum effort."
Not just anyone can fly a jetwing, Rossy says, noting that it is “too complicated” for most people to master and too pricey – about $100,000 to build — for most people’s pocketbooks.
A seasoned pilot before he became Jetman, Rossy flew as a fighter pilot in the Swiss Air Force, as well as a commercial pilot for Swissair and later for Swiss International Air Lines.
Rossy says he hopes Jetman will inspire future generations. “I had this crazy idea that this was possible. Now you have seen me and you know that it is. I want to try to inspire other people … to try to realize their dreams. That is really important to me.”
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There is another aircraft nearby, and its pilot is going to unusual lengths to keep you in sight.
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