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Following two weather delays, Yves Rossy, 49, Friday successfully flew across the English Channel from France to England strapped to a set of eight-foot, 120-pound carbon fiber wings on his back, powered by four kerosene-burning micro turbines carefully mounted beneath it. The flight from Calais to Dover followed the route traced by Louis Bleriot, who in 1909 won the honor of first person to cross the Channel in an aircraft — a trip that took 37 minutes. Rossy’s flight began at 8,000 feet upon departure from a Pilatus jump aircraft and covered the 22 miles in 9 minutes, 32 seconds, at speeds near 120 mph, according to The Guardian. Rossy had the benefit of a tailwind on his trek and so met Dover early with a bit of exuberant aerobatics. That was followed by parachute deployment and an otherwise harmless “face-in-the-dirt landing.” Next in line for the adventurer are plans to fly over the Grand Canyon, take off from a standing position, and expand his cache of aerobatics.
The Pilatus served as Rossy’s GPS en route, guiding him along while another aircraft relayed images captured from a helicopter that tracked his path through the air. Another helicopter was available for search and rescue, just in case. An excited Rossy spoke after the landing to offer his thanks to the many who supported his effort who he said crossed with him, if not under the wing.