A Swiss adventurer will today make a record-breaking attempt to become the first person to fly solo across the English Channel using a single jet-propelled wing.
Yves Rossy, known as Fusionman, will jump from a plane more than 8,200ft (2,500m) above ground, then fire up jets on his homemade wing and soar across one of the world’s busiest shipping lanes.
The 49 year old is hoping to make the flight from Calais to Dover just after 1pm BST after suffering a setback earlier this week when poor weather conditions postponed his attempt by a day.
Rossy, a former military pilot, aims to trace the route of French aviation pioneer Louis Bleriot, who became the first person to fly across the Channel in a plane 100 years ago.
Flying at speeds approaching 125mph, it is expected that the 22-mile televised flight across the Channel should take Rossy around 12 minutes to complete.
To achieve the feat, Rossy must overcome significant challenges, not least the container ships that will be passing through the sea.
In an interview earlier this week, he said: “If I calculate everything right, I will land in Dover. But if I get it wrong, I take a bath.”
Rossy – a pilot with Swiss International Air Lines -will review safety measures before take-off in Calais, especially important as his jet-propelled wing needs to be ignited while still inside the plane.
He has never flown for longer than 10 minutes. And his wing weight and measurements must be incredibly precise, with even the addition of a tiny camera possibly affecting how long he can stay in the air.
Over the past few months, he has been fine-tuning the wing’s design and performance and carried out several test flights in wind tunnels and the Swiss Alps.
His wing weighs about 55kg with fuel and includes four simple, kerosene-burning jet turbines to keep him airborne.
Created from a lightweight carbon composite, the wing has no steering devices, meaning Rossy will have to use his head and back to control the wing’s movement.
He will be outfitted with a special suit, helmet and parachute as part of the precautions to protect him from the jet turbines mounted just centimetres from him on the wing.
If the weather conditions turn out to be poor, another attempt at the crossing will take place tomorrow.
National Geographic Channel will broadcast the flight live around the world except France, Canada and Switzerland and will stream it live online at http://www.natgeotv.com/jetman