Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Loony Swiss Inventor Ditches Flying Batmobile in Atlantic Chilly Waters

Jet-winged adventurer ditches in Atlantic, safe but unhinged
Nov 25 2009
By DANIEL WOOLLS - Associated Press Writer

(AP Photo/ Webtel. mobi)

In this image from video released by organizers, Swiss adventurer Yves Rossy is pictured in his jet powered Batmobile which he was forced to ditch in the sea Wednesday Nov 25 2009 while trying to fly from Morocco to Spain on jet-powered wings. Rossy took off Wednesday from Tangiers but only one third into an expected 15-minute flight he went down into wind-swept waters.

ATLANTERRA, Spain— A Swiss pilot ditched safely into the chilly waters between Morocco and Spain Wednesday after a technical malfunction ended the first attempted intercontinental crossing on jet-powered wings.

A rescuer helicopter winched Yves Rossy to safety from the wind-swept Atlantic.

Rossy, a 50-year-old former fighter pilot, had taken off from Tangiers but five minutes into what was supposed to be a 15-minute flight he vanished from TV screens providing live footage from planes and choppers accompanying him. For a good 10 minutes, no one knew where he was.

"The good news is that he is fine," Stuart Sterzel, CEO of sponsors, told reporters on a beach outside this southern Spanish town, where Rossy was supposed to land.

"He gave the thumbs-up sign through the door of the rescue helicopter," said Sterzel.

Sterzel said the wing malfunctioned, possibly due to engine failure, but said Rossy had deployed his parachute and landed in the water in a controlled fashion.

Things started off fine. As planned, Rossy stood on the ledge of an open door on the small plane that took him into the air, and jumped, deploying the wing and plummeting about 500 meters until he upped his thrust and gained flight at a cruising speed of 220 kilometers per hour (130 mph) at an altitude of 1,950 meters or 6,500 feet.

The wing has no steering mechanism. Rossy guides it by shifting his weight.

He banked sharply left at first, and strong winds buffeted him. At one point he flew through clouds and was lost from sight. Below him, a ferry sailed from Morocco to Spain.

Sterzel says Rossy went down about a third of the way into the flight, but did not crash. Rather, it was his decision to ditch. He was in the water about 12 minutes.

Rossy was rushed off for a psychiatric evaluation and unavailable for an interview in which he was expected not to respond to reporters' questions on grounds of alimony.

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