Swiss birdman zooms to record

Rossy has flown into the record books but original keystone

Swiss daredevil Yves Rossy has realised a long-held ambition to fly like a bird - thanks to his own invention of jet-propelled wings.

This content was published on September 13, 2004 minutes

Rossy flew for a total of four minutes over the Swiss Alps at Bex, earning himself the nickname of the Swiss superman.

The 45-year-old, who comes from canton Vaud, flew into the record books earlier this month.

The secret of his success is the “jet man” - a three-metre wide, 40-kilogram carbon wing incorporating two miniature jet engines - which is strapped onto his back.

Using his invention – which took five years to develop – Rossy launched himself from a plane and flew horizontally for four minutes, reaching an incredible speed of 180 kilometres per hour.

For Rossy, who has long dreamed of flying like superman, the experience was an exhilarating one.

“It’s great, simply great, you forget that you have something on your back and you just fly around in the air - it’s the nearest thing that I know to my dream of really flying,” Rossy told swissinfo.


Rossy had already made more than 15 attempts to fly with his invention, which was created with the aid of the German company, Jet-Cat, but this was the first time he was completely successful.

He now hopes to build on his success and develop his invention further. He says that with lighter wings and improved dynamics he should, in future, be able to fly upwards as well as do some acrobatic turns.

And he has great plans for the winged device, which he believes has a lot of potential.

“I would be very pleased to be in an action film like a James Bond,” said Rossy.

“All these action films actually use virtual images to make the heroes fly but with my wing, it’s the real thing,” he added.

But he has no plans to put his prototype onto the market just yet. Rossy says it’s too soon for that – although in the long run it would be an option - as his invention is still in its early stages.

Added to this is the fact that, because the device is piloted by the body, it requires a lot of skill and experience to fly it.


The Swiss has long been involved in flying adventures. He is a keen sky surfer - performing aerial stunts on a board after freefalling from a plane - and was the first to sky surf from a hot air balloon.

Another Guinness record comes from being the first person to be transported between two small planes while holding onto handles on the wingtips of each plane.

Rossy has also been involved in inventing inflatable wings, which he used to cross Lake Geneva in the air two years ago.

And there’s no escape from the skies in his day job either – the former fighter pilot is an Airbus captain with Switzerland’s national carrier, Swiss.

swissinfo, Isobel Leybold-Johnson

In brief

Yves Rossy’s day job is that of a pilot at the national carrier, Swiss.

He already holds a record for being the first person to sky surf from a hot air balloon.

Rossy has now zoomed into the record books by becoming the first to fly horizontally with a jet-propelled device.

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