Jet-powered Swiss adventurer crosses English Channel
Saturday, 27 September 2008

AFP, DOVER, England - Swiss adventurer Yves Rossy made history Friday by flying across the English Channel from France using only a jet-powered wing.

The 49-year-old pilot touched down in a field near a lighthouse on the white cliffs of Dover after completing the 35-kilometre (22-mile) journey over one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.
 
"It was great. I feel a lot more calm now than before the flight. It was perfect conditions," he said with a big grin, after being mobbed by journalists shortly after his arrival.
 
With the carbon wing strapped to his back, Rossy had leapt out of a small plane at an altitude of 2,500 metres over the French coast before jetting off at speeds of more than 200 kilometres per hour.
 
Against a backdrop of picture-perfect blue skies, he ended his adventure around ten minutes later by cutting his engines and deploying a green and blue parachute at an altitude of some 1,500 metres over the English coast.
 
The Swiss daredevil -- a pilot with Swiss International Air Lines -- was visibly ecstatic as he was helped out of the wing structure into which he had been strapped for the flight.
 
"I would like to say thank you to all the people who helped me. I am the only one who has flown across the channel this way, but so many people helped me do it," he told journalists, staggering across the ploughed field.
 
Stephane Marmier, a skydiver and part of the support team, told AFP the flight had gone without a hitch.
 
"He's experienced a little bit of air turbulence, but otherwise it was the perfect flight. He's here in England, and that's what counts. We are delighted," he said.
 
Rossy had never flown for longer than ten minutes and had to calibrate his equipment and weight to perfection since even the addition of a few hundred grammes would have affected his flying ability.
 
His trip was broadcast live by two aircraft and two helicopters which flew alongside him across the channel.
 
Rossy, who calls himself FusionMan, was originally scheduled to make the flight Wednesday, but postponed it twice due to bad weather.
 
In 2004, he became the first man to fly with jet-powered wings.
 
He was aiming to trace the route of French inventor Louis Bleriot, who became the first person to fly across the English Channel in a plane 99 years ago, taking 37 minutes for the trip.
 
Speaking after his flight, he added: "I hope that many people will have the opportunity to fly like this. I am full of hope that there will be many in the future."

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