With his head in the clouds and his feet on the ground, Yves Rossy (Jetman) is a unique and inspirational after dinner speaker. Flying under a jet wing is the culmination of a 30 year career interspersed with sensational exploits.
Yves Rossy was born in Switzerland in 1959. After a technical apprenticeship and an engineering degree, he discovered the Mirage III supersonic fighter plane - a high point of his career. He flew the aircraft for 17 years while at the same time piloting historic aircraft such as the Hunter and the Venom, one of England’s earliest jet fighters.
Today retired from the Air Force, he continues to fly the Hunter two-seater owned by the Amici dell’ Hunter association. Currently on sabbatical leave (Swiss International Air Lines pilot), he devotes all his free time to his passion.
Treading the beaten track is something for others to do; for Yves Rossy, it’s not an option. He wants to fly like a bird, with a minimum of instruments but with the power to steer himself in space. The idea came to him to power a wing using scaled down jet engines.
It was in March 2003 that the first jet engine was ignited at altitude, on the Allalin glacier in Saas Fee, then on board an aircraft. The German company Jet-Cat supplied the engines which were initially attached to an inflatable wing. This method failed because of insufficient rigidity. In 2004 Yves Rossy developed a rigid deployable carbon-kevlar wing manufactured by ACT Composites. The early days were difficult.
At the Al-Aïn air show – probably the world’s largest event of its kind – he went into a spin, released the wing which tore its parachute. The craft was partially destroyed. The pilot worked on improving the wing deployment system and the aerodynamics of the wing tips to improve its stability. In 2005, he completed two successful flights under a wing fitted with two jet engines. A month later, he risked death again as uncontrollable oscillations forced him to release the wing which crashed to the ground. A long year of hard work and the addition of two additional jet engines were needed for the wing to attain the required level of performance and safety. This was the flight of November 2006, in Bex, a awoken dream lasting 5 minutes and 40 seconds.
Since then, Yves Rossy has been training constantly in order to optimise his wing. In April 2007, during a test flight, Yves was again forced to jettison his prototype. Seriously damaged, the wing took several months to repair. Yves Rossy then decided to build a new, more reliable and efficient prototype. Since 2008, his wings have been perfected further to enhance his flying enjoyment.
On September 26th , 2008, Yves became the first man to fly across the English Channel from Calais, France to Dover, UK, using a homemade jet-powered wing. He covered a distance of 35 kilometres in 13 minutes.
On July 2nd , 2010, Yves has realized his first flight in formation with two other aircraft. He jumped out of a Pilatus PC-6 at an altitude of 2'500 meters, and came close to the 2 Boeing Stearmans of the Breitling Wingwalkers team.
Two years after crossing the Channel, the technological evolutions of his wing allowed Jetman to perform his first aerobatics in the air. On November 5th, 2010, Jetman accomplished his first looping in front of a hot-air balloon.
Yves Rossy (Jetman) is the first man in the world to attach jet engines to a single wing and fly like Icarus. He is a unique after dinner speaker.
- Science and technology
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