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Swiss ‘Jetman’ Yves Rossy ditches in Atlantic

Jetman Yves Rossy

The Swiss adventurer Yves Rossy found himself in deep water today after a bid to make the first intercontinental flight using a jet-powered wing strapped to his back failed.

Rossy, 50, planned to fly 24 miles (38km) across the Strait of Gibraltar from Tangier in Morocco to Atlanterra in southern Spain, at a speed of almost 140mph (220kph).

His daredevil flight should have taken around 13 minutes, but shortly after setting off the “Jetman” disappeared from TV feeds.

Live pictures soon showed him in the Atlantic, swimming around beside his parachute.

The reason for his failure was not immediately apparent, but the ex-military pilot appeared unhurt and waved at a passing TV crew.

A search and rescue team codenamed Falcon 1, involving former special forces members, winched him to safety before he was taken to hospital by helicopter.

Stuart Sterzel, CEO of the challenge’s sponsors Webtel, speculated that Rossy had experienced engine failure.

He said he had no doubts that the pilot would “dust himself off” and make another bid in the future, expected to take place in the new year.

“Nothing worthwhile has ever been achieved on the first attempt,” he said. “One tries and tries again.

“No, he did not make it from Africa to Europe. But yes, it was success, because it was man’s first effort to make it across and full marks for his courage.”

Mr Sterzel added that Rossy had also achieved a minor triumph, noting: “He would have (reached European waters) because European waters start just off the coast of Morocco.”

He said that the Spanish Coastguard would recover the two-metre-long carbon-fibre wing, which is powered by four jet engines and steered by the pilot’s body movements.

Organisers covering the event on the micro-blogging site Twitter suggested that the weather may have contributed to the mishap, commenting that the “winds were certainly difficult today”.

Rossy made headlines in September 2008 when he became the first person to cross the English Channel between France and Britain using a jet-powered wing.

A global audience witnessed him leap from a plane more than 8,200ft (2,500m) above France before soaring at more than 100mph over one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes on his home-made wing.

His team said today’s Africa to Europe attempt was the logical next challenge.

Speaking before the flight, Rossy said that the main dangers were engine failure and losing control of the wing.

“But there’s always plan B. I can ditch the wing and open the parachute. If I land in the water, there are people to come and get me,” he said.

Full Story:

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/article6931566.ece

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