Swiss pilot Yves Rossy is making gains in bringing the first personal flying machine to market. Rossy recently made headlines for piloting a jet-propelled personal wing 22 miles over the English Channel. Using four model-size jet engines, Rossy leaped 6,600 feet from a plane over the Channel to become the first person to pilot a jet-fueled personal wing he and some friends built. The 121-pound jet-powered wing holds 3.5 gallons of gas and features a cutaway harness engine that will ensure he makes a clean break when he ejects the wing. His first prototype was made of plywood and Styrofoam and prolonged his freefall by 30 seconds. But the wing of his latest mode is made of a fiberglass shell that wraps around a carbon skeleton and is stuffed with an electronic control unit, two fiberglass tanks capable of holding 3.5 gallons of jet fuel, and wires. For now, Rossy wants to use the new wing to perform aerobatics in a public demonstration.
February 1, 2009