Human Jet's cross-channel bid grounded again
Poor weather conditions today scuppered a Swiss adventurer's record-breaking attempt to become the first person to fly solo across the English Channel using a single jet-propelled wing.
Yves Rossy, known as Fusionman, was due to jump from a plane more than 8,200ft (2,500m) above ground, then fire up jets on his home-made wing and soar across one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.
But a late build-up of cloud in the Dover area of Kent put paid to the attempt and it is now looking likely that it will take place tomorrow instead.
It is the second setback for 49-year-old Rossy who earlier this week had to postpone the bid, again due to poor weather conditions.
Speaking from Calais, where he was due to take off, Rossy said he "only had one life" and that it was too dangerous to attempt the feat.
He said: "My eyes are my best instruments and in these conditions it's just too dangerous."
The postponement was relayed via a live TV feed from Calais to hordes of journalists and camera crews who had gathered near the South Foreland lighthouse in Dover.
Rossy, a former military pilot, aimed to trace the route of French aviation pioneer Louis Bleriot, who became the first person to fly across the Channel in a plane 99 years ago.
Flying at speeds approaching 125mph, the 22-mile televised flight across the Channel was expected to have taken Rossy around 12 minutes to complete.
To achieve the feat, Rossy - a pilot with Swiss International Air Lines - would have had to overcome significant challenges, not least the container ships which will be passing through the sea.
In an interview earlier this week, he said: "If I calculate everything right, I will land in Dover. But if I get it wrong, I take a bath."
Rossy was due to review safety measures before take-off in Calais, especially important as his jet-propelled wing needs to be ignited while still inside the plane.
He has never flown for longer than 10 minutes. And his wing weight and measurements have to be incredibly precise, with even the addition of a tiny camera possibly affecting how long he can stay in the air.
In addition, weather conditions must be perfect for him to fly long enough to complete the journey.
A helicopter was due to hover nearby to capture images of him and he was to be equipped with a camera mounted on his 8ft (2.5m) wing.
Over the past few months, he has been fine-tuning the wing's design and performance and carried out several test flights in wind tunnels and the Swiss Alps.
His wing weighs about 121lb (55kg) with fuel and includes four simple, kerosene-burning jet turbines to keep him airborne.
Created from a lightweight carbon composite, the wing has no steering devices, meaning Rossy will have to use his head and back to control the wing's movement.
He will be outfitted with a special suit, helmet and parachute as part of the precautions to protect him from the jet turbines mounted just inches from him on the wing.
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