WASHINGTON -- In just weeks, one man will be the first to attempt to fly across the English Channel using a single, jet-propelled wing attached to his back. Swiss adventurer Yves Rossy will fire up his homemade jet wing, jump from a plane and attempt to cross the 23-mile channel in 12 minutes at about 120 mph. The National Geographic Channel (NGC) has exclusive U.S. access to his historic flight and will stream Rossy's mission live at www.natgeotv.com/jetman, as well as broadcast a special one-hour program that same night. Internationally, the event will air LIVE in 167 countries (excluding France, Switzerland and Canada) on NGC and its Web site. Rossy is scheduled to make his attempt Wednesday, September 24, subject to weather conditions, with a daily contingency window through Friday, September 26. NGC is committed to covering this event whichever day it occurs.
Live coverage will stream on the NGC Web site and document Rossy's flight from his takeoff near Calais, France, to his landing almost 15 minutes later in Dover, U.K. The live online coverage will begin at 7 a.m. (EST)/4 a.m. (PST) with Rossy's preparations and his scheduled launch expected at approximately 8 a.m. (EST)/5 a.m. (PST). The entire process and flight will be distilled into an hour-long special, Flight of the Jet Man, that will air on NGC that same night at 9 p.m. (EST). (Contingency note: if the attempt is delayed until Friday, September 26, the primetime show will air at 8 p.m. (EST), due to the presidential debate.)
Flight of the Jet Man will cover every angle of this historic chapter in aviation history, beginning on the ground in France as Rossy reviews safety measures just before takeoff -- especially important as his jet-propelled wing needs to be ignited while still inside the plane -- and following as he attempts to touch down in England and enter the annals of history. Cameras in his launch plane and on a helicopter will be supplemented by another mounted on the jetpack wing to capture dramatic aerial coverage throughout the flight.
Rossy, who refers to himself to as "Fusion Man" because he represents a true fusion between pilot and plane, will jump from a plane almost 2 miles above the ground and soar at speeds reaching approximately 120 mph using a specialized wing weighing about 120 pounds (including four kerosene-burning jet turbines). Created from a lightweight carbon composite, the wing has no steering devices; Rossy uses his head and back to control his movements. Outfitted with a special suit, helmet and parachute, Rossy has taken extensive precautions to protect himself from the four jet turbines resting just a few inches away from him on the wing.
"I have enormous admiration for the pioneers of aviation," says Rossy. "There is great beauty in the exploits of Bleriot and Lindbergh, for example. They risked their lives to discover the path not taken, to go where no one has gone before."
Part of a fearless fraternity of experimental pilots, Rossy will take a route mirroring that of French pioneer Louis Bleriot, who dared to be the first to cross the English Channel in an airplane 99 years ago. To achieve his own defining moment in aviation, Rossy must overcome significant challenges along the way. The wing weight and measurements must be incredibly precise -- even the addition of cameras mounted on the wing to record his flight may impact how long he is able to stay in the air. Likewise, weather conditions must be just right for him to fly long enough to complete the journey. Although test flights in wind tunnels and the Swiss Alps have helped Rossy polish the wing and his skills, only time will tell if he is able to accomplish this great feat.
Flight of the Jet Man is produced for National Geographic Channel and National Geographic Channels International by Cirrus Communications. Andre Barro from Cirrus and Bernard Vaillot from Galaxie Productions are the executive producers. Kathryn Liptrott is producer for Cirrus. For NGC-US, executive producer is Kathleen Cromley and executive vice president of content is Steve Burns; for NGCI, executive vice president of content is Sydney Suissa.
For more information, please visit www.natgeotv.com.