Feeds

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

Yves Rossy flies, undone

Build a business case: developing custom apps

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. ®

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
LOHAN tunes into ultra long range radio
And verily, Vultures shall speak status unto distant receivers
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
EOS, Lockheed to track space junk from Oz
WA facility gets laser-eyes out of the fog
prev story

Whitepapers

Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Backing up distributed data
Eliminating the redundant use of bandwidth and storage capacity and application consolidation in the modern data center.
The essential guide to IT transformation
ServiceNow discusses three IT transformations that can help CIOs automate IT services to transform IT and the enterprise
Next gen security for virtualised datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.