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Yves Rossy, the Swiss pilot known as "Jetman" for flying a unique jet-propelled wing attached to his back, has successfully flown above the Grand Canyon, after canceling a scheduled attempt last Friday. The flight occurred in Nevada over the weekend, sponsor Breitling announced on Tuesday. "My first flight in the U.S. is sure to be one of the most memorable experiences in my life, not only for the sheer beauty of the Grand Canyon but the honor to fly in sacred Native American lands," Rossy said in a news release. "Thank you Mother Nature and the Hualapai Tribe for making my lifelong dreams come true." Rossy launched from a helicopter at 8,000 feet above the canyon, and steering only by movement of his body, flew at speeds up to 190 mph for more than eight minutes at altitudes as low as 200 feet above the canyon rim. He then deployed a parachute and landed safely on the canyon floor.
The original May 6 flight was cancelled when FAA approval to allow the flight didn't arrive until an hour before launch time. "I was so focused on getting the [FAA] authorization ... I ended up forgetting that I should put my energy into the flight... I never had the opportunity to train seriously," he told AFP. "Flying here is very challenging. The [safety] margins are very tiny." The FAA's Las Vegas FSDO "went the extra mile," according to EAA, to issue Rossy a certification within two days of getting the request, a process that usually takes weeks. The FAA classified the wing plus pilot as an aircraft, and issued registration number N15YR. The wing is built from carbon composites and is about six feet wide. It's powered by four micro-turbines. Rossy, 51, previously flew his unique system across Lake Geneva and the English Channel, and last November he looped and rolled with the wing after jumping from a balloon. (Click here for video.) The media had been invited to the original May 6 launch, but the weekend flight apparently took place with little fanfare.