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Interview With Yves Rossy, Jetman

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Jetman Yves Rossy sat with AVweb Friday at AirVenture to discuss what it's like to "be the airplane" as he flies with a six-foot-wing and four microturbines strapped to his back. Rossy explained that his motivation for development of the wing had nothing to do with publicity, but "to be free in the air" and to address his personal dream of flight. "An airplane is a compromise," Rossy said, adding that he wanted to "go back to the root, back to the dream, back to the pure flight -- not reinvent another airplane ... Be the airplane." Sponsorship has added a new dimension to that dream and Rossy said that future performances could be enhanced by "Jumbotron" monitors streaming video from his wing, his launch helicopter and other vantage points. Rossy is a small object to observe with the naked eye from the ground at an airshow, and he expressed to us that he does not want to fly below 2500 feet -- an altitude he sets as his own safety margin. He does, however, have an idea.

Rossy described his ideal airshow performance, saying it could take place in a venue similar to the Grand Canyon, where he could fly along the face of a cliff. The audience could observe from the top of the cliff while he flew a few hundred feet from the cliff face while still maintaining his 2,500 foot vertical safety margin. "My safety ... and that's my life. It's minimum 2,500 feet. So, I don't want to go down lower than that ... just, and kill myself in front of a crowd. Safety first!" As for regulatory challenges posed by the FAA, Rossy said it was difficult for innovators like himself to work within preset limits. "Innovation by definition ... you have to break the rules. If you stay in the rules you will never innovate." Addressing our camera, Rossy directly asked the FAA to be innovative in the legal aspect, and to "follow and prepare the possibility for technical innovation. It should be a boost; not a brake." He is currently training his first Jetman pupil, and imagines a day when a squadron of Jetmen will fly together.

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