"Fusion Man" makes historic Channel flight

Fri Sep 26, 2008 12:09pm EDT
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By Avril Ormsby

LONDON (Reuters) - Swiss adventurer Yves Rossy flew from England to France Friday propelled by a jetpack strapped to his back -- the first person to cross the English Channnel in such a way.

Rossy, a pilot who normally flies an Airbus airliner, crossed the 22 miles between Calais and Dover at speeds of up to 120 mph in 13 minutes, his spokesman said.

When the white cliffs of Dover came into view, he opened a blue and yellow parachute and drifted down in light winds to land in a British field where he was mobbed by well-wishers.

"Everything was perfect," he said afterwards. "I showed that it is possible to fly a little bit like a bird."

Rossy traced the route of French aviator Louis Bleriot, who became the first person to fly across the Channel in an aircraft in 1909.

The Swiss pilot was propelled by four kerosene-burning jet turbines attached to a wing on his back. He ignited the jets inside a plane before jumping out more than 8,000 feet above ground.

After a period of free fall he opened the wing and soared across the water. With no steering controls, the only way to change direction was like a bird, moving his head and back.

The 49-year-old Rossy, who calls himself "Fusion Man," told the BBC the most tense moment was when he jumped from the aircraft "because I did have many problems during exits before."   Continued...

<p>Swiss airline pilot Yves Rossy gestures after becoming the first person to cross the English channel with a jetpack strapped to his back, in Dover southern England September 26, 2008. REUTERS/Kieran Doherty</p>