For Just $285,000, You Can Have Your Jetpack

Known as Fusion Man, he's the Swiss Eval Knieval of the air, and yesterday he plunged to earth 7500 feet from an airplane at over 180 miles an hour, buoyed only by four jets strapped to his back. But in reality, he's just a pilot named Yves Rossi who built the jet wings himself — to the tune of about $258,000 dollars. (He had a little help from sponsors.) Want to see it in full video action?

Here's a video of the flight, with dreamy background music provided by our sister site Gizmodo. I would have done something a little more death metal, but actually the pop works OK too. Says The Register about the commercial potential of this jetpack:

Rossy's backpack jetwings won't be hitting the shops soon, though. The only controls or instruments are a throttle and an audible altimeter - the wing is steered using the body, and given his long history of crackups this plainly isn't easy even for Rossy. A flameproof suit is necessary to avoid leg burns from the jet exhaust, too. The only way of launching is to jump from a (great) height. Landing is by folding the wings and parachuting down - yet more skills to be mastered. (The latest wing has its own landing chute which deploys if it has to be jettisoned, which should ease the future development path somewhat).

The main application would seem to be stunts like yesterday's - or perhaps for certain highly unusual/barmy special-forces missions. Spelco, a military parachute company in Germany, is working on its "Gryphon" backpack deltaplane - an easier to operate, low-radar-signature, long-ranging version of Rossy's concept.

Next, Rossy claims, he'll zoom 22 miles across the English Channel. Top image by Stephanie Thomet, via The Register.

Swiss birdman in Alpine backpack [The Register]