Watch out, Boba Fett! Homemade jetpack has 1st successful U.S. flight

Contributed by
Dec 14, 2012

Where's My Jetpack? is a 2007 book that asks the obvious question "Where's my jetpack?" Boba Fett has one, and so does the Rocketeer—so why not the rest of us? If you're Yves Rossy, though the answer is "I gotcher jetpack right here."

Rossy, a former fighter pilot in the Swiss Air Force who goes by the name "Jetman," recently flew across the Grand Canyon, making him the envy of everyone who has wanted to fly without an airplane.

According to SwissInfo:

Flying his jet-propelled wing attached to his back, and steering only by moving his body, Rossy launched from a helicopter at 2,440 metres above the the Grand Canyon. ... Skimming the rockscape at speeds of up to 300km per hour, Jetman sustained flight for more than eight minutes, 60 metres above the rim of Grand Canyon West before deploying his parachute and landing smoothly on the canyon floor.
Actually, the media-shy Swiss flew on May 7, 2011, but it wasn't announced until May 10, 2011. The 52-year-old Swiss didn't want reporters on site, because they would make him nervous. (And flying over a canyon with a jetpack didn't?)

According to Wikipedia, Rossy flies a "back pack with semi-rigid aeroplane-type carbon-fiber wings with a span of about 2.4 metres (7.9 ft), powered by four attached jet engines modified from model aircraft engines." His first flight, in Switzerland, was in 2006.

As if we weren't already jealous, he described a flight in 2008 as something we've dreamed flying with a jetpack would be like:

"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." ... "It's like being on a motorbike. But I have to focus on relaxing, because if I show any tension, I start to swing around."

Rossy's machine isn't the only jetpack around. The U.S. government tested them for years before dismissing them as impractical. Tinkerers have come up with their own designs, but they've met with "limited success." Martin Jetpack in New Zealand sells them, but they're not FAA-approved ... and Rossy's jetpack is.

MSNBC wrote, "The agency usually requires 25 to 40 hours of test flights but waived that rule for Rossy, saying he already had a significant amount of flight time with the jet suit."

So we now know where our jetpack is: Rossy has it.

Take a look:

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