Swiss adventurer Yves Rossy makes history with a flight across the English Channel

By Pete Norman
Updated September 26, 2008 02:25 PM
Credit: Anja Niedringhaus/AP

To Infinity, and beyond!

Indeed, Buzz Lightyear would be proud of Yves Rossy of Switzerland, who flew into history on Friday morning by zooming from France to England with a Lightyear-like jet wing strapped to his back.

Rossy, 48, jumped out of a plane at more than 8,000 feet above the French countryside near Calais and ignited the four-engined jet for the 22-mile soar to England.

Wearing a crash helmet and hi-tech altitude suit with altimeter on his wrist, Rossy was strapped to the carbon-fiber wing as a human fuselage during an airborne journey that lasted less than 10 minutes.

Mirrors 1909 Trip

Self-described as “Fusionman”, the record-breaking attempt was broadcast live by the National Geographic channel. Reaching speeds of up to 125 m.p.h., Rossy hoped to follow the route used by French aviator Louis Blériot in 1909 during the very first solo airplane flight across the Channel.

As Rossy approached the White Cliffs of Dover, he buzzed a lighthouse and looped for waiting spectators. After cutting his turbine engines, Rossy pulled a ripcord and parachuted into a farmer’s field while still attached to the Lightyear wing.

It felt “great, really great”, Rossy, who believes the technology has immense future possibilities, said afterwards, reports the BBC. “I only have one word, thank-you, to all the people who did it with me.”