Yves Rossy did it.
A day after disappointing the media — and just about everybody else it seems — when he canceled another one of his death-defying stunts, the 51-year-old inventor widely known as “Jetman” secretively strapped on a pair of jet-powered wings and soared over the Grand Canyon.
The flight, which lasted all of eight minutes, was no less breathtaking than it would have been with the media circus there to watch it. A helicopter lifted the swiss daredevil an elevation of roughly 8,000 feet to a spot where he jumped. At times, he was flying as fast as 190 mph and maneuvering 200 feet above the rim of the canyon before parachuting to safety. Since no journalists were present to witness it, the account of what transpired was reported by his sponsor Breitling, a maker of Swiss watches.
But a spokesperson for Grand Canyon Resort, a Indian tribal company responsible for arranging the much-hyped event, confirmed that it did indeed happen and a newly released video shows that, yes, it was every bit as awesome as it was purported to be.
For Rossy, a former fighter pilot, it was his sixth rocketpack-inspired flight. In 2008, he flew across the English channel for about 9 minutes. Later that year, he flew over the Alps at a top speed of 189 mph. Each flight gave him an opportunity to test the limits of what’s possible using his invention, a homemade device that consisted of a back pack, carbon-fiber wings with an 8-foot wingspan and four modified jet engines.
The Grand Canyon, however, proved to be uniquely challenging in that he hadn’t received permission from the Federal Aviation Administration to perform the stunt right up until an hour before the feat was scheduled to take place. And by then, he felt his training was inadequate.
“If I do a mistake and half of U.S. television [is here], it’s really bad for you, for me, for everybody,” Rossy told the Associated Press.
But on a calm Saturday morning, as what had been 46 mph gusts started to die down, he once again lived up to his reputation. And boy — did he ever.
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