Hurtling through the air at over 200 km/h with a rigid wing equipped with four jet engines: such is the incredible feat achieved by Swiss aviator Yves Rossy, and which has earned him the nickname "Jetman". This bird-man, inventor, accomplished athlete and professional airline pilot is a worthy heir to the "magnificent men in their flying machines" who made their mark on the early years of flight.
One day when stuck in a tree during his childhood, Yves Rossy vowed to himself that "When I grow up, I going to be a pilots". Pilots with an s, because his desire to fly was already combined by a thirst for multiple adventures and a love of thrills. Today, he has fulfilled his dream and written his name forever in the aeronautical history books.
Born in Switzerland in 1959, Yves Rossy served from the age of 20 to 28 as a professional military pilot flying Hunter, Tiger F-5 and Mirage III supersonic fighter planes. From 1988 to 2000, he was a co-pilot with Swissair, and since then has been working as a captain for Swiss International Airlines.
In parallel with his professional career, he soon began exploring various ways of cleaving the skies: skydiving, freefalling, skysurfing, hang-gliding, paragliding, acrobatics in a biplane, etc. He made a name for himself through several somewhat crazy stunts such as a flight with his hands tied to the wings of two planes; or a skysurf jump from a hot-air balloon. He has also proved himself a multi-talented athlete, whose achievements include doing a tour of Switzerland in a day using 25 successive means of locomotion (plane, motorbike, snowboard, ski, climbing, paragliding, mountain-biking, bungy-jumping, helicopter flight, freefalling, rafting, hydrospeed, kayak, sports car, hang-gliding, horse-riding, barefoot, water-skiing, wakeboard, speed boat, etc.).
Blessed with a daring and inventive mind, Yves Rossy has always wanted to develop new flight techniques and has tried out all kinds of various "airborne devices". In 2002, an inflatable wing enabled him to cross the 12-kilometer stretch between the Swiss and French shores of Lake Léman. But another challenge had already begun to form in his mind: that of becoming the world's first ever "jet-propelled flying man" thanks to a wing equipped with jet engines. After his first inconclusive attempts with an inflatable wing, he designed a rigid folding carbon-fiber wing. In June 2004, he made a first six-minute horizontal flight with two jet engines. Two years later, equipped with four jet engines, he was able to ascend in mid-flight for the very first time.
On September 26th 2008, Yves Rossy made history by crossing the Channel with his jet-powered wing - 99 years after Blériot's legendary feat. After a drop-off over Calais (France) from a Pilatus Porter plane, he plunged several hundred meters at a speed of over 300 km/h, before deploying and stabilizing his wing and heading at around 200 km/h towards the English coast. Apart from his wing, his only equipment consisted of a helmet, a wristworn altimeter, a chronograph to monitor his fuel consumption, a gas handle to give extra power - and his own body to change direction and altitude. 9 minutes and 41 seconds later, he touched down by parachute in a field near Dover (United Kingdom), filmed by reporters from around the world.
After designing a new single wing that is both smaller and more stable, Jetman is brimming with new plans, including crossing the Grand Canyon in Colorado. So as to accomplish his feats even closer to spectators, he is also working on developing a pyrotechnical parachute that will enable him to perform at less than 200 meters above ground level. All of which provides him with even more ways of becoming pilots with an s.