Human flight at 190 MPH with no steering

It’s been a while since we looked in on a TED talk but this one is fantastic. [Yves Rossy] is interviewed about his jet-powered flight wing at the TED conference. He designed the unit as a form of personal flight. He straps it on, jumps out of a plane, then flies across the sky until he runs out of fuel. There’s no steering mechanism; it’s more of a fixed-wing hang glider plus jet turbine engines. But the pilot can affect the direction of the wing by moving his body.

We’ve embedded the video after the break. The first five minutes are all flight footage (which you’re going to want to watch… we specifically kept the banner image vague so as not to spoil it for you). After that, you’ll enjoy the interview where details about the hardware and its operation are shared.

The wing itself is about 2 meters across, hosting four kerosene-powered turbine engines. There’s about eight minutes worth of fuel on board, which [Yves] monitors with a clock while also keeping an eye on the altimeter. Landings are courtesy of a parachute, with a second on board as a backup. If things go badly–and they have as you’ll hear in the interview–an emergency release frees the pilot from the machine.

Want to build your own? Maybe this will get you started.

[Thanks László]

47 thoughts on “Human flight at 190 MPH with no steering

  1. As someone who’s dreamed of flying my whole life, my hat goes off to Yves Rossy and his crew. What an awesome achievement!

  2. Will it ever be open hardware? Not that it concerns me, if I where crazy enough to try this, I couldn’t afford the ride up to launch altitude. Being in Kansas means a jump off a cliff version is of no use.

    1. Well from the looks of it you need to make a custon carbon fiber wing and strap on 4 JetCat P80-SE 22# thrust turbines…but being that the engines will run you about $10k for 4….and HAD readers generally tend to cry foul at anything that costs more than a happy meal…..I bet it will be awhile before we see one cobbled together here.

  3. Looks like there is some form of steering (or at least trimming) – at 0:18 hinged elevons are visible…

    Still, but given the size of the body to the size of the wing I’m sure a great degree of control is possible.

  4. Matthias_H, that’s actually what lens flare looks like in a complicated modern lens system. It also happened right about where it would be predicted to happen… so, not sure I would call it fake.

    1. The lens flair looks more or less ok, but it moves smoothly across the screen while the picture of thy guy jumps frame by frame. Fake.

      1. Lens flare smoothness vs. jerky flight motion is due to relative angular speed of human bird being much greater than the angular delta in azimuth and elevation. Basically the sun is fixed, the camera is panning slowly and this guy is zipping downrange and slightly left.

    2. Nope. That’s a fake flare. I hadn’t noticed it first, because, you know… birdman.. but now I can’t unsee it. Thanks, jerks!

  5. This guy made something that allows him to be one of the few people in the world that are able to see some of the most breathtaking things in the world, and you guys are talking about fake lens flares? Seriously?

    1. Yeah, because if it’s such an amazing thing, why in the hell are they putting fake lens flares in their videos?!

      I’ll admit, I scrolled down and read all the comments and went back up to watch it again, and true enough, that is a fake lens flare! That’s retarded! On top of that, I think I’ve seen better lens flare effects in halo 1.

      1. not entirely sure, but 98% that it qualified as a powered hang-glider.

        I fear it would fail the traditional ultralight classification in the USA, based on the fact that it is not self-launching. and it has too high of a stall speed.

        Apparently, the FCC was as confused as we are. Seems they canceled his first flight day over the canyon, while trying to figure out it’s classification, so they could grant the experimental license.

  6. @N0LKK

    Same as any glider or any sailplane, winch and cable, high tensioned elastic, jump off tall buildings in a single bound, oh wait….

  7. Clearly, from the label emblazoned on the unit, it was sponsored by Breitling, Stan Lee’s superhumans had a piece on him I saw a few weeks ago. Looks like, by definition, he did achieve actual powered flight. Buy, whats really bothering me is that he said the motors weighed 45 kg each… Seems to me thy at those weights, 2 motors fly the pilot, and the other 2 fly mostly themselves…

  8. Seen this before. Simply amazing.

    Technically, he could take off from the ground, and possibly even land. But if something should go wrong at this critical phase, he may be too low for a parachute landing, and too high to survive the fall. That’s why he does it the way he does.

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