News of former Swiss Air Force pilot Yves Rossy's incredible 22-mile solo flight over the English Channel zapped around ye old Internets today and the accompanying videos are truly spectacular. The 49-year-old, alternately known as "Jetman," and "Fusionman," flew to 8,200 miles in a prop plane before igniting jets affixed to mini wings strapped on his back, in an effort to blast across the Channel at up to 125 m.p.h.
While not a jetpack in the strict sci-fi sense, Rossy's machine, which he first flew about four years ago, is certainly a marvel of physics, transforming its flyer into a comic book hero come to life. This is the latest development in an 80-year effort to replicate in real life the jetpack worn by Buck Rogers in an Amazing Stories magazine piece in 1928.
Rossy, like countless other jetpack enthusiasts, is inspired by an idea that's at once modest and thrilling: to fly with freedom. Or, as he put it upon completing his Channel hop: We are now that much closer to flying "a little bit like a bird" some day in the future. May that day be soon!