Rocket man shoots for record

2009-11-25 15:56

Atlanterra - He's done the Swiss Alps and the English Channel, soaring over them on a jet-powered wing. For his next trick, a daredevil pilot aims to go intercontinental, flying from North Africa's tip to Europe's southern fringe.

If all goes well - and tricky winds are a source of worry - Yves Rossy of Switzerland will zoom on Wednesday from Tangiers, Morocco, to Atlanterra, Spain, in about 13 minutes, covering a distance of about 38km and ending with a gentle parachute landing on a beach sometime around 15:30 (14:30 GMT).

Four alternative departure points further east along the Moroccan coast have been arranged.

The 50-year-old former fighter pilot will attempt the feat with a bright red, homemade wing spanning 2.5 metres strapped to his back and powered by four kerosene-fuelled jet engines.

A small plane will first take him to an altitude of 1 950 metres, and Rossy will them jump out and fly.

His endeavour is being billed as the first intercontinental crossing by man over the North Atlantic between Africa and Europe using jet-powered wings.

Rossy served up the first public demonstration of his homemade aircraft in May 2008, doing figure-eights over the Alps before touching down near the eastern shore of Lake Geneva.

He flew across the English Channel in September in 2008, going from Calais, France, to Dover, England.

This time the weather is of particular concern because Rossy is supposed to fly over the spot where the Atlantic flows into the Mediterranean through the Strait of Gibraltar. This makes for high-speed winds that can suddenly change direction, or blow in two directions at once at different altitudes, organisers say.