Yves Rossy's Strap-On Flying Wing

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Yves Rossy, 48, again made headlines last Wednesday, jumping from an aircraft over the Alps with yet another set of prototype jet-powered and unfolding wings (roughly seven and one half foot in span), but this time with four jet engines and enough skill to execute a full 360-degree roll. "That was to impress the girls" the now-single pioneer told Australia's Herald Sun. Rossy plans to cross the English Channel later this year, convinced that 10 minutes of fuel and a speed of 185 miles per hour will leave him room to spare. Rossy claims the experience is not physically stressful, but it is clearly challenging. The aircraft is controlled with body movement: "If I turn to the left, I fly left. If I nudge to the right, I go right," he said. And Rossy has lost several prototypes already, with one partially destroyed in 2004 following a near fatal spin at an airshow, a 2005 wreck following "uncontrollable oscillations," and an early 2007 mishap that forced another rebuild -- those, among other challenges along the way. His current carbon-fiber-constructed quadruple-engined aircraft should allow for almost 200 pounds of thrust and a climb rate of 1,000 feet per minute. Those interested in duplicating the adventure currently will need a jump plane, a parachute, a flameproof suit (to avoid leg burns from jet exhaust), the skills associated with flight using your body as flight controls (though there is a throttle) and landing under parachute with wing attached ... and perhaps under-developed adrenal glands.

Rossy has recently won sponsorship from Swiss watch manufacturer Hubolt and has added a landing chute to the wing that can deploy if prudence demands the wing be jettisoned, both of which should contribute positively to future development of Rossy's unique sport. Watch Rossy fly an earlier version of the wing on YouTube, here.