Swiss "Jetman" says he made Grand Canyon flight

Wed May 11, 2011 2:33pm EDT
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By David Schwartz

PHOENIX (Reuters Life!) - Few people say they witnessed it for themselves, but a Swiss daredevil dubbed "Jetman" said he made a successful weekend flight over the Grand Canyon in a custom-made, winged jet pack.

Pilot Yves Rossy rocketed across a portion of the western end of the canyon owned by the Hualapai Indian Reservation on Saturday morning, according a statement released three days later by sponsors from the Swiss watch manufacturer Breitling.

"My first flight in the U.S. is sure to be one of the most memorable experiences in my life, not only for the sheer beauty of the Grand Canyon, but the honor to fly in sacred Native American lands," Rossy said in the statement.

"Thank you Mother Nature and the Hualapai Tribe for making my lifelong dreams come true," he said.

The statement said Rossy was "launched" from a helicopter at 8,000 feet, then streaked over the rim of the canyon before deploying a parachute to land safely on the canyon floor eight minutes later.

At Breitling's invitation, a large group of reporters, photographers and television camera crews had flocked to the remote site in northeastern Arizona on Friday for what the company said would be a public exhibition of Rossy's attempt to fly over the canyon.

But by day's end, the media were told that Rossy had canceled his flight due to last-minute delays in obtaining approval from the Federal Aviation Administration, leaving him too little time for a practice run.

The flight he made the next day, with few observers present but his own support team, ended up being his only attempt due to changing wind conditions, said Rachel Jones-Pittier, a spokeswoman for the public relations firm Breitling hired.   Continued...

<p>Yves "JetMan" Rossy of Switzerland speaks to news reporters after cancelling his flight attempt over the Grand Canyon at 8,000 feet on the Hualapai Indian Reservation near Peach Springs, Arizona May 6, 2011. REUTERS/Joshua Lott</p>