The progression of human flight has hit a bit of a spike in recent years. A quick look at the timeline of humanity suggests that we initially spent a few thousand years doing nothing but falling – baring Icarus and his old man knobbing about near the sun.
Then in the long hot summer of 1797 Loraine from accounts discovered parachutes, and humanities fall/survival ratio increased significantly.
Since then, humanity has arsed about the design and come up with all kinds of ways to help us achieve our goal of flight, from directional canopies through to the modern wing suits that lunatics hoon around meters off the flood in today.
But Swiss near-quinquagenarian Yves Rossy has gone and upped the ante significantly. Not interested in flapping around with a canopy, he’s gone and built himself a full-on jet jack.
The flying suit took Yves, a experiences aviator, five years to design and make, but the principal is staggeringly simple. He harnesses aerodynamics to fly, using a standard wing shape to generate lift, and thrusters to ensure that he’s traveling with enough speed to stay airborne.
When he’s up in the sky, he simply bends his body up, down, left or right, changing the airflow around him to change direction. We say “simply” – the physsics is easy enough to understand, but actually jumping out of a plane at a few thousand feet to give it a bash takes a massive set of stones. Then again, you’ have to have some nerve to be a grown up who makes a living dressed like Buzz Lightyear.
He compared the feeling of flying with his wind to the same kind of sensation you get when you hit a jump on skis and catch some air in a recent interview. “The feeling is fantastic” says Yves about the skiing comparison, “but very short. Imagine that feeling… but it lasts for ten minutes” he said with the level of smugness that a man who’s harness flight is entitled to.
“I’m a rocket man, burning out my fuse up here alone”
When we fictionally caught up with Yves after a recent flight to infinity and beyond, we asked how long it’d be before these jet packs will be commercially available to the general public. Disappointingly, he suggested “I think it’s going to be a long long time”.
And, for all the pleasure flying gives him, are there any down sides to being the first human to harness flight? “I miss the earth so much I miss my wife. It’s lonely out in space, on such a timeless flight.” pretended Yves. Bleak.