Feeds

Strap-on jetwing birdman does an Icarus into Straits of Gibraltar

Yves Rossy flies, undone

Remote control for virtualized desktops

Renowned backpack birdman Yves Rossy has suffered yet another mishap during an attempt to fly across the Straits of Gibraltar. Windy conditions were blamed by organisers after the Swiss daredevil plunged into the sea minutes after leaping from a small aircraft above Morocco, having intended to land in Spain.

Yves Rossy soars to glory

Jetboy Rossy in happier days.

The planned flight was billed as "intercontinental" in an attempt to differentiate it from Rossy's successful flight across the English Channel just over a year ago. However the 23-mile Straits bid doesn't really seem much different - apart from the fact that it didn't work out.

It's not yet known just why Rossy did an Icarus on this occasion, though his many previous crackups have often followed losses of control. The birdman's custom-made jetwing is known to be a bit of a handful.

Rossy got into backpack jetplanes following a madcap 1990s sky-stunt career featuring various kinds of aerial surfboards, balloons etc. In 2003, he began experimenting with jet engines attached to inflatable man-wings.

Over the next five years, Rossy made many daredevil test flights, mainly over the Swiss Alps, gradually eliminating flaws as successive strap-on planes went out of control or cracked up in accidents - though Rossy himself always managed to parachute down safely.

Today's wing is a rigid carbon-fibre job, extended after Rossy jumps from his drop aircraft by a gas piston. The four miniature jet engines are cased in kevlar, to prevent the dashing birdman being riddled with high-velocity debris in the event of a turbine coming to bits. A flame-proof suit is necessary to avoid burns from the hot jet exhaust.

Rossy's current backpackplane won't ever be a common transport choice. It can only be launched by leaping from a great height, and landing is strictly by parachute - a small drogue is opened first to slow down, then the main descent chute opens. In the event of a loss of control in flight, Rossy can jettison the wing - the latest model has its own chute to bring it in to a soft landing, intended to prevent the destruction which has resulted on previous occasions.

The least user-friendly thing about the jetpack is that there are no controls or instruments other than a throttle and an audible altimeter. Rossy is the only man in the world who knows how to fly it, by moving his body and head, and it's plainly quite difficult even for him.

But Rossy says he aims to develop a more useable machine, with enough thrust to make a vertical takeoff rather than jumping from a height. The current model has better than 200lb of poke, but weighs 120lb fuelled up without its pilot. It also lacks any feasible means of control at low airspeeds. Even so, the resourceful birdman reckons one day to sell backpack planes - perhaps not VTOL ones - at the same sort of prices as current microlight aircraft.

For now, though, the former Swiss airforce fighter pilot will be sticking mainly to his day job as an airline pilot. No doubt further madcap stunts may be expected. ®

Beginner's guide to SSL certificates

More from The Register

next story
MEN: For pity's sake SLEEP with LOTS of WOMEN - and avoid Prostate Cancer
And, um, don't sleep with other men. If that's what worries you
Voyager 1 now EIGHTEEN LIGHT HOURS from home
Almost 20 BEEELION kilometres from Sol
HUGE SHARK as big as a WWII SUBMARINE died out, allowing whales to exist
Who'd win a fight: Megalodon or a German battleship?
Jim Beam me up, Scotty! WHISKY from SPAAACE returns to Earth
They're insured for $1m, before you thirsty folks make plans
ROGUE SAIL BOAT blocks SPACE STATION PODULE blastoff
Er, we think our ISS launch beats your fishing expedition
Comet Siding Spring revealed as flying molehill
Hiding from this space pimple isn't going to do humanity's reputation any good
BAE points electromagnetic projectile at US Army
Railguns for 'Future fighting vehicle'
LONG ARM of the SAUR: Brachially gifted dino bone conundrum solved
Deinocheirus mirificus was a bit of a knuckle dragger
prev story

Whitepapers

Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Getting started with customer-focused identity management
Learn why identity is a fundamental requirement to digital growth, and how without it there is no way to identify and engage customers in a meaningful way.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Intelligent flash storage arrays
Tegile Intelligent Storage Arrays with IntelliFlash helps IT boost storage utilization and effciency while delivering unmatched storage savings and performance.
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.