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Fusion Man is the nickname of Yves Rossy, a Swiss pilot, inventor, aviation enthusiast, and former fighter pilot for the Swiss Air Force. Fusion Man became famous in 19 December 2006 when he became the first person to build and fly a jet-engine powered wing. Built by himself with help from sponsors such as Swiss watch company Hublot, the craft took $190,000 US Dollars (USD) and several years to build.
Fusion Man's first flight took place in Bex, Switzerland, and lasted six minutes. His wings were carbon-fiber and had a wingspan of a about 8 ft (2.4 m). The device was powered by four small kerosene-burning Jet-Cat jet engines, which are normally meant for model jet planes. To protect himself from the temperature of the jet engines, Rossy wore a heat-resistant suit similar to those worn by firefighters and race car drivers. After his 2006 flight, Rossy claimed to be "the first person to gain altitude and maintain a stable horizontal flight thanks to aerodynamic carbon foldable wings." Jet packs have existed since as far back as the late 1940s, but Fusion Man was the first person to attach wings to them and use them to fly horizontally.
In his 2006 flight, Fusion Man used a Pilatus PC-6 propeller plane as a launching-off point. Jumping out of the plane with his wings folded, the wings extended when he entered free fall, and he subsequently began horizontal flight, gaining several hundred feet of altitude and reaching speeds of 160 mph. After flying for 6 minutes 30 seconds, he opened his parachute, which served as his break, then floating safely to the ground. Rossy would then engage in over 30 practice flights between late 2006 and 14 May 2008, when he would conduct his first public flight in front of the world media.
Rossy's 14 May flight was also held in Bex, and this time, he entertained the crowd and media with loop-de-loops and long turns. Flight control was achieved purely by using his body and two hand throttles -- no additional control features were necessary. Soaring above the Swiss Alps, Rossy crossed the Rhone Valley and achieved an altitude of 2,600 ft (790 m). Footage of his amazing flight captivated audiences worldwide.
On 26 September 2008, Rossy impressed the world again by crossing the English Channel (which is 21 mi or 34 km wide) in 9 minutes 7 seconds using his jet pack. This brings to mind historic flights like the 1785 crossing of the English Channel in an airship by Jean-Pierre Blanchard and the 1909 crossing in an airplane by Louis Blariot. At top speed he reached 186 mph, and by the time he released his parachute, he was traveling 125 mph. For his future plans, Fusion Man says he wants to fly in his jetpack through the Grand Canyon.
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