Today at just after 2pm GMT Swiss adventurer - and very brave soul - Yves Rossy jumped out of a plane over Tangier in Morocco and headed across the Atlantic Ocean towards Tarifa, Spain, some 23 miles away. The jet-powered flight was to be the first intercontinental Jetpack flight and would have been a mile further than his historic crossing of the English Channel last year. Unfortunately the attempt was thwarted by heavy clouds and ended with a - thankfully uninjured - Rossy ditching into the sea.
Rossy, aka Jetman (for obvious reasons), aka Fusionman (because he believes he fuses the skills of a man and a bird), was uninjured in the attempt. He says he was forced to let go of the wing and deploy his parachute after encountering a lot of turbulence in the clouds, which were much heavier than expected. This posed a serious problem for Rossy who flies with no instruments and has to rely on feel. He attempted to fly over the clouds, but was too slow and upon emerging from the cloud cover realized he was flying at 300 km/h (186 mph) at an altitude of just 850m (2,788 feet).
The days leading up to the flight saw rigorous safety precautions being taken, including a full Search and Rescue rehearsal being conducted the day before the attempt. The rehearsal, which saw Rossy lowered into the Atlantic Ocean, and then be extracted by two retired Special Forces Operators from the Search and Rescue helicopter, ensured the rescue went off without a hitch. In total Rossy was accompanied by a fleet of three helicopters and two fixed-wing aircraft to ferry event staff and broadcast the event, which was sponsored by Webtel.mobi.
But don’t expect a little dunk in the ocean slow Fusionman down. Rossy says he is keen to make another attempt at the first intercontinental jetpack flight in the New Year, but before that he has plans to fly in the Grand Canyon in a bigger, more powerful wing – which, before anyone asks, wasn’t used in this attempt as it doesn’t have a big enough range for the intercontinental flight.