Fifty four year old Swiss pilot Yves Rossy, flew over Mount Fuji, the highest mountain in Japan and an active volcano, in his self-built jetpack making headlines across the world. This was not his first time flying in the jetpack as he already previously earned nicknames which include jetman, airman, rocket man, and fusionman. The jetpack he built is different from the ones engraved on everyone’s minds in the show The Jetsons.
Yves Rossy is a pilot who began flying in the Swiss Air Force, and later with Swiss International Airlines, where he currently is a Captain. The first time his flying stunts made headlines was in 2008 when he constructed a backpack with carbon fiber wings and a jet engine for his flight across the Alps. He soared over the mountains hitting top speeds of 124mph.
In 2009, he attempted to cross the Straight of Gibraltar but failed and fell into the water due to heavy winds. Gibraltar is famous for heavy winds and popular with windsurfers.
Yves Rossy made another flight in May 2011 when he flew in the jetpack across the Grand Canyon and reached speeds up to 190mph. That jump had to be approved by the FAA beforehand, which was not easy as FAA representatives were not sure whether to classify the jetpack as an airplane or a sort of power glider.
This week Rossy holstered the jetpack and jumped out of a helicopter in Japan to fly over the 12,389ft of Mount Fuji. The Hualapai tribe permitted the flight three months earlier. However, It took two years to pinpoint landing sites and discuss the plan with tribal officials. Rossy started practice flights at the end of October. In every flight, he jumped out of a helicopter from 12,000 feet.
While other jetpacks exist in the world, the one Rossy constructed cannot depart and arrive without aid. Instead it depends on planes lifting it high enough to where Rossy can jump out and then later pull a parachute to land.
On comparing flying the jetpack to being a commercial pilot, Rossy says “it is such a contrast flying free with just a wing on my back, compared to being enclosed in a cockpit as an airline pilot.” Very few people can relate to this statement since jetpacks are not readily being tested in large numbers. However, the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand approved Martin Aircraft to test jetpacks on their pilots. It is possible the company will debut their jetpack by the end of the year.
Breitling, a developer and manufacturer of watches, sponsored Yves Rossy’s jetpack flight over the Grand Canyon and across Mount Fuji. In return, everyone can see the Breitling name emblazoned across the wings of the jetpack.
In his statement to reporters, Rossy aimed to inspire others when he said, “I am the lucky guy who gets to do this, but I hope I can motivate the next generation of forward thinkers to do something different, even if it seems impossible.” With a self made jetpack and flying over Mt Fuji, it seems imaginations may just be ignited.
By Cayce Manesiotis