“Fusionman” vows to fly again despite setback
Yves "Fusionman" Rossy tells swissinfo.ch that he will soon be back out flying his DIY jetwing, despite his failed flight bid between North Africa and Europe.
Rossy, an airline captain and ex-fighter pilot, was rescued from the chilly Strait of Gibraltar waters near Morocco after heavy turbulence and visibility problems forced him to ditch in the sea on Wednesday during his flight to southern Spain.
He started well after take-off from Tangiers, leaping from a small plane at 2,000 metres with his two-metre wide homemade wing strapped to his back and the four jets already ignited.
But around four minutes into an expected 15-minute flight, he ditched into the water.
However, the Swiss birdman says this latest setback will not curtail his plans to fly over the Grand Canyon next April and to develop a new smaller, more powerful wing and parachute.
Rossy – who was the first person to fly solo across the English Channel using a single jet-propelled wing – was taking part in an intercontinental challenge on Wednesday organised by the mobile firm Webtel.mobi.
swissinfo.ch: How do you feel after your accident while flying between Morocco and southern Spain?
Yves Rossy: I feel good. It was quite a tense moment but the plan B functioned well and I’m ready to go again.
I know I’m a bit on the edge and it’s a new domain so you make mistakes, but you learn from them. That’s how you improve your performance.
swissinfo.ch: What went wrong? Was it an equipment or weather problem?
Y.R.: It was tricky as it was half cloudy, windy and there were some layers of cloud with different kinds of winds.
I chose to go as it’s a question of risk management. Maybe on Thursday I wouldn’t have done so, but today I was sure I could do it.
Unfortunately as I’m heavy when I start due to the fuel, I am slower. I had to go over some clouds but I was too slow and the turbulence made me unstable.
I lost altitude to try to regain control, but I suddenly found myself in the clouds without any bearings. My only instruments are my feelings and sight and without them I am lost.
I wasn’t especially scared, more like disappointed. I’m confident that next time it will be good with a better wing and better weather.
swissinfo.ch: So did you misread the weather conditions?
Y.R.: No. I had the best guys from Méteo France and guys on the ground checking conditions in Morocco and Spain. One week ago we also did a simulation of weather conditions and winds and all indicators were on green.
swissinfo.ch: So what’s next for Yves Rossy?
Y.R.: The next thing is…(long hesitation)…to continue. I have a wing ready which I have already flown which is more stable and powerful. I plan to go to the Grand Canyon to present it next spring.
As per my discussions with Stuart Sterzel, the CEO of Webtel.mobi, I would like to do another intercontinental challenge. I would do this again; it’s possible without the clouds.
Simon Bradley in Atlanterra, swissinfo.ch
Yves Rossy zoomed into the record books on June 24, 2004 by becoming the first person to fly horizontally for four minutes with a jet-propelled wing strapped to his back.
On September 26, 2008 Rossy became the first person to fly solo across the English Channel using a single jet-propelled wing, retracing the route of French aviator Louis Blériot.
Rossy’s transformation from human to jet-man involves putting on a Formula-1 fireproof suit, three parachutes, two for Rossy and one for his wing, a helmet that beeps a warning when he goes too low and his homemade three-metre-wide carbon wing, which is strapped to his back and powered by four mini jets. His invention weighs about 55kg with fuel.
The wing, which he conceived, built and fine tuned himself over eight years, has no steering capability so Rossy had to control his movement using his head, shoulders and arms. The only instrument is the fuel throttle.
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