“Where’s my jetpack?”
Three words to strike fear in the hearts of futurists and SFnal types everywhere. Fed into google, it returns 59,600 hits, including – aptly enough – this xkcd comic. A paleo-futuristic emblem of faded dreams and disappointment.
Now, finally, an answer – “!!FUSIONMAN!! has it.”
Last week, The Guardian reported on how FUSIONMAN (also known as Swiss aviator-inventor Yves Rossy) had been preparing for an attempted crossing of “the English Channel propelled by a jet-powered wing” with a number of test flights;
“Yves … jumped from a plane above the Swiss town of Bex and reached speeds of up to 180mph during his 12 minutes of jet-powered flight before landing at an airfield in Villeneuve. Rossy first unveiled his jet-powered wing in May with an 8-minute aerobatic display over the Alps.
“Everything went well, it was awesome,” said Rossy after the flight. “It’s my longest flight with this wing. If there are no technical problems, it’s OK for the English Channel. I can’t wait for this next challenge!”
His attempt had originally been thwarted by a collection of technical failures, including a leaking gas tank and two aborted flights during which the engines stopped within seconds of jumping from his support plane. He blamed these failures – which forced him to deploy his parachutes early – on “electronic interference problems”.
The successful flight involved him jumping out of the aircraft at 2,300m, flying horizontally under jet power from a height of 1,700m and then switching off the jet engines before deploying two parachutes at 1500m and 1200m.
The wing does not include moving parts such as flaps to control direction, but Rossy is able to steer by shifting his weight and moving his head.
When he reached the ground he still had 2 litres of fuel left in his wing, suggesting that he would have some margin for error during the cross-channel flight.”
The cross-channel attempt is scheduled for the 24th September (weather-permitting), and will be streamed live on the National Geographic Channel.
(image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons)