Monday, September 29, 2008

Frenchman fails in cross channel flight


St├ęphane Rousson makes ready for his cross channel attempt

The French were at it again this weekend with another record breaking attempt. But where Fusion Man succeeded in his channel crossing using a wing equipped with rockets, St├ęphane Rousson failed in his second attempt at crossing the 34 km channel on a pedal-powered airship. The 39 year old Frenchman covered a little over half the distance before strong winds began to blow him off course. He had left the Kent coast at around 07:00 GMT but after five hours Rousson was forced to ditch his craft into the sea. "I'm not disappointed. I feel happy because it had nothing to do with any technical failure" told reporters after his failed attempt.
Rousson is not the only Frenchman to take on bizarre, and some might say crazy, stunts. In 1998 Frenchman Ben Lecomte, swam a colossal 5,980 km [3,716 miles] across the Atlantic Ocean. However he did take rests on his support boat which prompted much criticism [BBC]. In 1994 Guy Delage made the claim of being the first man to swim across the ocean with only a kick-board to aid him. Frenchman Alain Bombard made the first crossing in a rubber dingy in 1952. And in 1988, another Frenchman, Remy Bricka, took 64 days to "ski" across the Atlantic on polyester floats.

Earlier this year Frenchman Michel Fournier was set to leap from a helium balloon as it neared the edge of space IHT. But his attempt to break the world free fall record failed after his balloon left without him [BBC].

Perhaps the most famous Frenchman known for his death defying stunts is Alain Robert who has climbed countless high rise buildings throughout the world unaided. But the prize for the most daring stunt should go to Philippe Petit who in 1974 walked between the two World Trade Center towers on a tight rope. And before anyone writes in, Yves Rossy, or Fusion Man as he calls himself, is actually Swiss. Maybe that French eccentrity is catching.

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