Daredevil's winged flight across Gibraltar strait fails
A Swiss daredevil attempting to fly across the Strait of Gibraltar using a homemade, jet-powered wing fell short of his goal and was rescued from the water on Wednesday.
Yves Rossy, an ex-Swiss military and commercial pilot, tried to make aviation history by flying from Tangiers, Morocco, to Atlanterra, Spain, a distance of about 38 kilometres, on a single jet-propelled wing.
Rossy took to the skies with a red, homemade wing spanning 2.5 metres strapped to his back, powered by four kerosene-fuelled jet engines.
Rossy said he was forced to abandon his record attempt about a third of the way into the flight because of bad weather.
High, unpredictable winds over the spot where the Atlantic Ocean flows into the Mediterranean Sea were a concern during Wednesday's flight.
After taking off from Morocco in a small plane, Rossy deployed the wing mid-air and began his flight. A few minutes into his journey he hit turbulence and vanished into the clouds, unable to be seen by the TV crews accompanying him.
For a good 10 minutes, no one knew where he was.
TV crews soon found him wading in the water and waving at the cameras.
Rossy deployed his parachute and landed in the water in a controlled fashion. He was picked up about 12 minutes later by helicopter and taken to a nearby hospital to get checked out.
"I am still here — a little bit wet but I am still here," Rossy said at a news conference after undergoing a medical checkup, still wearing his red and white flying suit. "I did my best."
His daring stunt was billed as the first intercontinental crossing by man over the North Atlantic between Africa and Europe using jet-powered wings.Rossy successfully flew over the English channel in September 2008. He made the trip from Calais, France, to Dover, England, in about 10 minutes, reaching speeds of more than 300 kilometres per hour. He also previously flew over the Swiss Alps.
Rossy may attempt the Atlantic crossing again in future, and is planning to take on the Grand Canyon next spring with an upgraded wing he is now completing.
"I love to fly and to fly like this is freedom," he said. "The emotions are so strong you become addicted."
With files from The Associated Press