Fans of the early James Bond movies will always remember Sean Connery escaping the bad guys by flying away in his personal jet pack. Now, almost 50 years later, a Swiss daredevil is living out the old Bond scenes for real.
Yves “Jetman” Rossy, a former fighter pilot who later flew 747s for commercial airline SwissAir, these days likes to forego the plane altogether. Recently, he strapped on his homemade jetpack and took a spin around Japan’s iconic Mt. Fuji — actually, he took nine spins around the inactive volcano, Japan’s tallest mountain which can be seen from 60 miles away in Tokyo.
Rossy hit speeds of 190 mph and an altitude of 12,000 feet after dropping from a helicopter. But unlike James Bond, he has yet to perfect a technique for landing in his jetpack. Once his flight was over, he opened a parachute and floated to the ground.
“It’s a fantastic privilege to be a mosquito flying in front of that mountain,” said the 54-year-old extreme flyer, after completing his circuit around Fuji-san, as the Japanese call the spiritually sacred, 12,389-foot peak.
Rossy’s home-built jetpack weighs about 130 pounds and is powered by four jet engines across its eight-foot wingspan.
A company in New Zealand, Martin Aircraft, announced in August that it plans to market a smaller jetpack for everyday use, possibly as early as 2014.
But unlike Rossy’s creation, the Martin Aircraft machine is not actually powered by jets. Rather, two high-velocity fans in carbon-fiber cylinders propel the company’s planned consumer “jetpack.”
No such shortcuts for Rossy, who has made several previous flights in his authentic jetpack.
He flew over the Grand Canyon in 2011 and over the Swiss Alps in 2008. That same year, he flew over the English Channel in an event that formed the basis for a National Geographic TV special.
An attempt the following year to fly over the Strait of Gibraltar, a strip of ocean separating Europe from Africa, fell short. Bad weather forced Rossy to crash-land in the sea, but he emerged unhurt.
Check out some mindblowing video of Rossy’s Mt. Fuji flight below.
Sources: Daily Mirror, BBC, National Geographic, Wikipedia, YouTube