In 2006, the Swiss pilot Yves Rossy became the first and only man in the history of aviation to fly with a jet-propelled wing, and still is to this day.
Yves Rossy was born on August 27th, 1959 in Switzerland. After attending an airshow and admiring military jets when he was 13, he decided that was what he wanted to do. He succeeded in becoming a military pilot, was assigned on the Hawker Hunter, and later Mirage III. After his career in the Air Force, he has worked as a captain with Swiss International Air Lines on commercial flights on Boeing and Airbus airliners.
Yves has always dedicated all his free time to flight and experimented all its forms. His dream was however to try to fly in the most natural way possible, by removing the need for the complicated enclosure an aircraft is. He was therefore drawn to the world of free fall, and experimented by trial and error all ways that could allow him to stay longer in the air and control his trajectory, to turn a fall into a flight: sky surf, wingsuit. Still not satisfied, he developed his first real wing, made of a rigid harness and inflatable wing panels, that he was to strap to his back to exceed the performance of all other attempts at “falling forward” that existed at the time.
The next step was naturally to gain total freedom by making the whole wing rigid and adding engines. Yves chose to go with model jet turbines, at first 2 of them, which allowed him to just hold level flight in 2005, and then 4 to finally conquer the 3rd dimension in 2006 – not within an enclosed space with mechanical controls and instruments, but by truly flying like a bird for 10 minutes at a time, with nothing but his body and feelings, floating like if the wing was a natural part of his body, so much that he doesn’t even feel it in flight. This was finally the reward of 10 years of development and more than 15 prototypes. All he has is an altimeter for safety, and a tiny throttle control in his hand.
Since then, Yves Rossy has been training constantly in order to optimise his wing’s handling and performance. This endeavour was rewarded for the first time in May 2008 in front of the worldwide press with his first official flight over the Swiss Alps.
In September 2008, 99 years after the first crossing of the English Channel by air, the man now known as JETMAN followed the path of Louis Blériot, achieving an amazing flight that was broadcast live to 165 countries and widely covered by the worldwide press. Yves Rossy became legendary – even if all this ground work is actually only just opening the way to a world of adventures and emotions, both for him and his fans!
Since then, he has developed a whole new wing shape with much better stability and control, leading to the first formation flights and aerobatic demonstrations in 2010!