“Fusion Man” jets across English Channel with carbon fiber wing

Jet Man on Sept. 24 will attempt to become the first person to cross the English Channel with a jet-propelled wing attached to his back. The wing is made from carbon fiber composites.

On Sept. 26, Yves Rossy became the first person to fly across the English Channel using a jet-powered composite wing. Rossy, who calls himself “FusionMan,” covered the distance of 35 km/21.5 miles from Calais, France, to Dover, U.K., in 13 minutes, retracing the route taken by French aviator Louis Blériot, who was the first to cross the Channel in an airplane 99 years ago.

From Calais Airport, Rossy was transported in a Pilatus airplane to an altitude of nearly 2,500m/8,125 ft, at which point he jumped from the plane, fired his engines above Calais, flew to the White Cliffs of Dover at about 200 km per hour/123 mph and then opened a parachute for descent.

The foldable carbon/epoxy wing structure was apparent-ly developed in collabora-tion with ACT Composites (Geneva, Switzerland). The wing’s span is 2.5m/8.1 ft, fully deployed, and it weighs 55 kg/121 lb with engines and fuel. Rossy reportedly conducted a wind tunnel test prior to the flight and identified ways to improve the wing and optimize engine ignition performance to make the feat possible.

The flight across the Channel was broadcast live by the National Geographic Channel. According to the FusionMan Web site, the next demonstration involves flying over the Grand Canyon. Further wing development also is underway to make it lighter and easier to handle.