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
Collaboration between the German government, academia, and airplane manufacturers may make future aircraft cabins more protective of pilots and passengers. The Safety Box team plans to apply auto racing technology to general aviation.
A father and his 14-year-old son were helping another pilot ferry a newly purchased aircraft from California to their home field in Virginia. The three made an overnight stop in Albuquerque before flying on to Illinois for fuel. But shortly after they parked the aircraft in Marion, Ill., they were approached by as many as 18 uniformed and non-uniformed law enforcement officers who came running toward the airplane.
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