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Fusion Man Goes Flying

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For those of you out there that remember the insta-classic movie The Rocketeer, Swiss pilot Yves Rossy's remarkable feat will seem like Hollywood come to life. According to the AP, Yves Rossy, also known as Fusion Man, "strapped on a jet-powered wing and leaped from a plane Wednesday for the first public demonstration of the homemade device, turning figure eights and soaring high above the Alps."

Rossy, 48, had stepped out of the Swiss-built Pilatus Porter aircraft at 7,500 feet and unfolded the rigid eight-foot wings strapped to his back before jumping.

Passing from free fall to a gentle glide, Rossy then triggered four jet turbines and accelerated to 186 miles per hour, about 65 miles per hour faster than the typical falling skydiver. A plane that flew at some distance beside him measured his speed.

Steering with his body, Rossy dived, turned and soared again, performing what appeared to be effortless loops from one side of the Rhone valley to the other. At times he rose 2,600 feet before descending again.

Here is a slideshow of Fusion Man and his daring feat.

And if you think Rossy is going to rest on his winged laurels now, you thought wrong.

Rossy told The Associated Press that one day he also hopes to fly through the Grand Canyon.

To do this, he will have to fit his wings with bigger, more powerful jets to allow for greater maneuverability. The German-built model aircraft engines he currently uses already provide 200 pounds of thrust, enough to allow Rossy and his 120-pound flying suit to climb through the air.

So, what happens if things go awry?

Rossy said he has to focus hard on relaxing in the air, because "if you put tension on your body, you start to swing around."

Should things go wrong -- and Rossy says they have more times than not -- there's always a yellow handle to jettison the wings and unfold the parachute.

"I've had many 'whoops' moments," he said. "My safety is altitude."

Below is a short video of the Swiss Rocket Man and his years of preparation. Though it's not in English, you can definitely get the picture.

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