I am still buzzing about Yves Rossy's historic flight last Wednesday over the Swiss Alps. In his honor, here are some pictures from the Daily Mail:
(More pictures from Impact Lab.)
I am so excited by this endeavor because it fuses together cybernetics and aerospace in a way that has never been seen before. See this excerpt from the Daily Mail article:
After one last wave to the watching crowd, Rossy dipped his wings as he prepared for the piece de resistance, a manoeuvre he hadn't tried before...He flipped onto his back and levelled out again, executing a perfect 360-degree roll that even a bird would find impossible.
"It's like a second skin," Rossy said later after landing on the shores of Lake Geneva.
"If I turn to the left, I fly left. If I nudge to the right, I go right."
He remarked that he couldn't enjoy the view because he had to keep so concentrated. As Bob Mottram remarked in the comments section, if the flight surfaces were computer-controlled, this would simplify matters and eliminate the stress factor for the flier. The parachute could be triggered to automatically open in case of an emergency.
Here's some specs:
The four Germanbuilt model aircraft engines he currently uses provide 200lb of thrust each, enough to enable the 110lb foldable carbon wings, and Rossy in his 120lb flying suit, to climb at 200ft a minute.
I can only imagine the performance increases if the weight of the wings could be decreased by several times, which could be possible in the next couple decades through advances in materials science. For instance, the cost of bulk diamond is plummeting, making it conceivable that it could be employed as a construction material for aerospace applications in the 2020s.
What are Rossy's future plans?
With his first big test under his belt, Rossy, 48, is ready for bigger challenges: he plans to cross the English Channel later this year, before attempting to fly through the Grand Canyon.
To do this, he will have to fit more powerful jets to allow for greater manoeuvring.
Flying through the Grand Canyon on one of these? Reminds me of rebel pilot training in Star Wars.
Rossy was able to reach speeds of 190 mph in his flying wing, exceeding the maximum speed of the Pilatus PC-6 he jumped out of, which is only 150 mph.
I wonder: how fast will these things would be able to go before they run into some fundamental limit? Could one of these potentially break the sound barrier (652 mph), or would it be ripped to shreds?