Like Icarus, he attempted to soar across a body of water using a pair of wings. Unfortunately for Swiss pilot Yves Rossy – also known as "Jet Man" – his flight ended in similarly spectacular failure yesterday.
Whereas the character from Greek mythology relied upon wax and feathers to propel him through the air, Mr Rossy preferred a four-cylinder jet pack and carbon-fibre wings. And to the relief of those watching on 24-hour news channels, his dramatic fall into the Strait of Gibraltar did not result in his death.
The 50-year-old fell into the sea 15 minutes after leaping out of an aircraft above Tangier in Morocco. He had aimed to reach Atlantera in southern Spain 23 miles away, and if he had succeeded, he would have become the first person to complete an intercontinental crossing using only a jet-powered wing.
Wearing a flame-retardant suit and helmet, Mr Rossy cruised at speeds of up to 180mph at an altitude of 6,500ft before disaster struck. Organisers said his wing had suffered a "malfunction", forcing him to deploy his parachute. They added that both he and the wing "seemed intact", but he was flown to hospital as a precaution after being winched to safety.
The jet wing had no steering devices, so Mr Rossy had to use his head and back to control its movement.