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Wed, Dec 27, 2006

Swiss Pilot, Inventor Does Convincing 'Rocketeer' Impersonation

Say Hello To Jet-Man!

He's a former Swiss army pilot, current Swiss airline pilot, and an intrepid backyard tinkerer. And now, Yves Rossy can add one more title to his business card: Jet-man.

Rossy earned the self-bestowed title following the most recent flight of his personal winged jetpack, when he managed to stay aloft for more than six minutes over the Swiss Alps before running out of fuel.

To earn the "Jet-man" title, Rossy jumped from a plane over the Swiss Alps, deployed the pack's foldable wings, and lit up the pack's four small jet engines. He flew at speeds greater than 100 knots, and even managed to climb slightly before popping his parachute to float to the ground.

Rossy's jetpack is not new. In fact, he flew his first model in 2002, for about four minutes. He's made over 30 test flights since then, gradually improving the pack to increase endurance.

Rossy wears both a main 'chute, as well as an emergency backup that can deploy even if Rossy was unconscious.

"The idea is to have fun, not to kill yourself," Rossy said.

Although his current design can only propel a person already in flight, eventually Rossy hopes to build a jetpack able to lift its pilot off the ground. That would require much higher output than the 50 lbs. of thrust each of the four engines currently provide.

Even in its current form, it's easy to see the potential value of Rossy's idea. Not only would it add a new and VERY exciting element to skydiving... but it could also aid Special Forces troops in the very near future.

Wearing jetpacks, paratroopers could jump from a transport plane while still over friendly territory... and then fly to their destination. Such a future "stealth" jetpack would need to have engines MUCH quieter than Rossy's current screamers, of course... but it's an intriguing idea.

Eventually, Rossy hopes to perfect his design, and even perform one day at various airshows.

Is it just us, or does this thing have "AirVenture 2010" written all over it?

FMI: Learn More, Watch Videos Of The Jet-Man

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