French Jetman Vince Reffet Killed In Training Accident


Vince Reffet, who wowed the world early this year with spectacular jetpack flights from a pier in Dubai, was killed in a training accident on Tuesday, according to his team. “It is with unimaginable sadness that we announce the passing of Jetman pilot, Vincent Reffet, who died this morning during training in Dubai,” Jetman Dubai spokesman Abdulla Binhabtoor told AFP news. No details on the accident were immediately available but it took place at the team’s desert base outside of Dubai. “We are working closely with all relevant authorities,” Binhabtoor said in a statement referring to the investigation.

Along with Yves Rossi, Reffet, 36, was among a select few skydivers and wing pilots who have flown jet-powered carbon-fiber hard wings. Reffet’s version, as shown in the video here, was equipped with four small jet engines. Although public displays of jetpacks have typically launched from helicopters or aircraft, Reffet stunned the world by taking off from a pier in Dubai, hovering briefly at low altitude, and landing under jet power. He then took off again and soared over the city skyline before landing under a skydiving canopy.

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  1. Paul–As a pilot and skydiver, you are UNIQUELY QUALIFIED to comment on the problems and future of jet “hard wings” and “jet wingsuits” Most cannot even fathom the problems, challenges and opportunities–and potential solutions.

    The aviation world is filled with “it’s right around the corner” promises that usually are dead ends. What demonstrated improvements would it take before you would fly either a rigid wing or jet wingsuit? Though I’m a former skydiver, and fly gliders, ultralights, and jets–I couldn’t even consider the logistical questions to ask–but YOU can. I’d be interested in your take on this relatively unexplored facet of flight.

    • Flight is not something to be taken lightly. My condolences go out to the young man’s family and close friends none of whom I know, but with whom I share an appreciation of their grief, who remain behind. Depending on their love for him they shall grieve in silence for the remainder of their lives. In 2016 we lost our beloved son-in-law Patrick Kerber in a similar accident in Switzerland. He left behind a loving wife who’ll never forget him and family who cared for him beyond words. Plus a wonderful future left undone by simply violating serious aviation rules. I wonder repeatedly of the reasons which motivated him that day to jump off into clouds? Was he really so unaware of such dangers? Sadly, his ignorance and arrogance too it seems blinded him, so he left much undone his future ending in a flash? Such sports as these, if you can call them such, what purpose do they serve when the suffering they bring are the result in most cases? If these young thrill seeker were men of real value, why not go to Laos or Vietnam and dedicate their time to digging up unexploded bombs rusting away in the jungle that Vietnam War left behind? Admittedly, doing such as that does not bring notority or fame but would serve a worthwhile purpose don’t you think? In anycase, sad.

      • If Orville and Wilber were men of the value you seek, they would have stuck to bicycles.

        That is of course, until you politely informed them of the dangers and the number of deaths riding a bike.

        I guess we could sit in our Barcaloungers until our muscles and minds reach the peaceful respite of atrophy.

      • I would think that your daughter knew who she was marrying. It is sad she lost her husband but the risk was there and I am sure his activities made him the man she and you knew and loved. Life is full of risks, he could have just as easily been killed by a truck that lost control on a highway. Those that participate in extreme activities know the risk but I am sure they think it will be the other guy who buys the farm. As pilots of light GA planes we know the risks, by the numbers it is a far less safe activity then driving but we do it anyways, it is who we are and hopefully our loved ones understand it.

  2. Sad to hear, but not a big surprise – extreme sports have high risks, and sooner or later…
    Not saying people shouldn’t do them. If they are aware of the risks (and doubtless he was), then power to them.

  3. Thanks for the reply, Paul. I did see that initial coverage, and commented on it. You did a good job of guessing how the flight was pulled off.

    My question was–“The aviation world is filled with “it’s right around the corner” promises that usually are dead ends. What demonstrated improvements would it take before you would fly either a rigid wing or jet wingsuit?”

    The question was less about “HOW did they do it?” and more about “What would it take to convince YOU to do it?”

    Skydiving is sparsely regulated in comparison to aircraft and all grades of pilots–compare the volume of FAR Part 105 to Part 91–we can’t look to the FAA for “guidance” (at least not YET!) NOT that anybody is begging the FAA to regulate these things, but one would have to ask “Are they Ultralights? Are they gliders? Are they parachutes? CAN the FAA regulate them? SHOULD they be regulated? Should they be operated like any other parachute? WHERE can these be flown? Can they be flown over a towered airport? Can they be flown over a “congested area?” Does ATC have to be notified?

    As a pilot and (former) skydiver, BEFORE I suited up to fly one, I’d like to know HOW they fly. Is it vectored thrust? Is it Angle of Attack? (and if so, how is it measured?). What’s the VNE for operation on a rigid wing, and for opening on a parachute? What reserve are they using–and what is the minimum altitude for deployment? What is the “cutaway procedure” and equipment for jettisoning the rigid wings? What unique training would be involved before flying either a powered wingsuit or rigid jet wings? What are the relative merits and demerits of “ground launched” (rigid wings) and “powered wingsuits?” These are the questions I’d like answered before I’d consider suiting up–and in the absence of any other “authority”–I’d like to hear what an experienced skydiver and pilot’s opinion might be.

    I’ve looked online for a United States Parachute Assn. position on these issues–no answer. I believe there will be a proliferation of rigid wings and powered wingsuits–USPA should get out in front of the issue, rather than let the FAA define it.

    • When Rossi was doing this in the U.S., he had to get special dispensation as an experimental aircraft for demos. He is a licensed pilot. The FAA hasn’t figured these things out yet. USPA doesn’t have to dedicate much resources for awhile. Judging by how slowly wingsuits developed, I think these will be slower than that because of the expense and the technology.

      Now, wingsuits are pretty common. It has taken 10 years to get here. I can go to the dropzone and find an instructor and start flying them. Haven’t done it yet because I haven’t gotten around to it. The jetpack is something else entirely. Someone will have to test them, prove them and manufacture them before they can ever appear in volume. I suspect that’s where Reffet and his group were eventually going.

      Since Rossi and Reffet used turbojets, there’s that problem. A type rating? The electric version is a little more appealing and may not require any regulation at all. I dunno. Doubt if I’ll still be jumping when all that happens.