Saturday, September 27, 2008

Fusion Man rockets across the Channel

Yves Rossy after his successful flight across the English Channel

Is it a bird, is it a plane? No, it’s Rocket Man! Or Fusion Man or even the Human Jet. Countless names have been attributed to Yves Rossy least of all crazy. The 49 year old flew across the channel on Friday equipped with a set of fibre-glass wings and four rockets strapped to his back. After a delay of 24 hours the Swiss pilot finally completed his channel crossing. Weather had stopped his record breaking attempt on Thursday, but Friday’s blue skies were perfect. Launching himself from a plane 3,000 metres above France, Fusion Man roared off at 200 km/h towards the English coast a little over 30 km away.

Following him across the channel were several news helicopters and a plane flown by National Geographic bringing Live pictures to viewers around the world via the Internet and on TV broadcasts. CNN cut into programming to bring a few seconds flight but cut away soon after. Sky brought viewers the entire journey but CNN and the BBC both returned to the spectacle shortly before Rossy cut his engines and deployed his parachute as he soared over the white cliffs of Dover. The journey took only 9 minutes and 32 seconds. The Swiss dare-devil, as CNN described him, made a perfect touch down. He was quickly surrounded by spectators, photographers and news crews all clamouring for interviews and pictures of the stuntman labelled by some as a real Buzz Lightyear. Next week he returns to his regular job as an airline pilot for Swiss International [BBC].

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