Saturday, August 23, 2008

Jet man ready for cross-Channel attempt

Jet man ready for cross-Channel attempt after 'awesome' test flight
Pilot Yves Rossy landed safely yesterday after reaching speeds of 180mph strapped to a jet-powered wing.

James Randerson, science correspondent, Thursday August 21 2008 17:58 BST
Article history

Yves Rossy soars over Switzerland yesterday strapped to a jet-powered wing. The flight was a test run for a cross-Channel attempt next month

A Swiss daredevil's bid to cross the English Channel propelled by a jet-powered wing strapped to his back moved a step closer yesterday with a successful 36km test flight over Switzerland.

The flight proves that his jet-powered wing can take him far enough to make it across the channel from Calais to Dover. He hopes to make the crossing on 24 September if the weather is suitable.

Yves Rossy – who calls himself FusionMan – jumped from a plane above the Swiss town of Bex and reached speeds of up to 180mph during his 12 minutes of jet-powered flight before landing at an airfield in Villeneuve. Rossy first unveiled his jet-powered wing in May with an 8-minute aerobatic display over the Alps.

"Everything went well, it was awesome," said Rossy after the flight. "It's my longest flight with this wing. If there are no technical problems, it's OK for the English Channel. I can't wait for this next challenge!"

His attempt had originally been thwarted by a collection of technical failures, including a leaking gas tank and two aborted flights during which the engines stopped within seconds of jumping from his support plane. He blamed these failures – which forced him to deploy his parachutes early – on "electronic interference problems".

The successful flight involved him jumping out of the aircraft at 2,300m, flying horizontally under jet power from a height of 1,700m and then switching off the jet engines before deploying two parachutes at 1500m and 1200m.

The wing does not include moving parts such as flaps to control direction, but Rossy is able to steer by shifting his weight and moving his head.

When he reached the ground he still had 2 litres of fuel left in his wing, suggesting that he would have some margin for error during the cross-channel flight.

Rossy is a former military pilot. His channel flight will be streamed live on the National Geographic Channel.

New Cold War/ Tit for Tat: Russia and Syria Missile Shield.

Syria says it’s ready to put a Russian missile system on its soil as a counterweight to U.S. plans to deploy a missile shield in Poland and the Czech Republic. The offer was made during a meeting between Syrian leader Bashar Al-Assad and President Dmitry Medvedev in the Black Sea resort of Sochi.
Meanwhile, Moscow is considering a request from Syria for more Russian-made weapons.

It was the first meeting between the two leaders, and President Al-Assad was keen to show Syria’s support for Russia.

"We understand what is behind Russia's position ... We believe this is a response to Georgian provocation. We support Moscow in this and are against any attempts to blacken Russia," Al-Assad said.

Many expected a tit-for-tat response after the U.S. sealed a deal to deploy interceptors in Poland as a part of their missile defence system.

Ahead of the visit, there were reports that Russia might deploy a missile system in Syria, in particular, the Iskander system. It’s something Syria has been requesting for a long time. After Friday’s meeting, Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said that Russia is ready “to consider the offers of the Syrian government in connection to the delivery of new weapons, only for defence purposes”.

Moscow has temporarily suspended cooperation with NATO. It follows NATO’s criticism of Russia’s actions in South Ossetia and threats to shut down the NATO-Russia Council. Lavrov was clear on Russia’s course: “We are not going to slam the door on NATO. NATO could slam this door, though. Everything depends on NATO's priorities: if the priorities are absolutely supportive of Saakashvili's bankrupt regime to the detriment of partnership with Russia, then it is not our fault,” he said.

Meanwhile, the withdrawal of Russian troops from the conflict zone is well under way. There will be at least 500 peacekeepers deployed in the so-called security zone near the border. The rest of the peacekeepers will remain within the de facto borders of South Ossetia. The rest of the troops in the area will return to Russia.

Russia says it’s fully committed to the six principles of the cease-fire, but, according to Lavrov, some countries are resorting to diplomatic tricks.

Both South Ossetia and Abkhazia, Georgia’s two separatist regions, have again asked Moscow to recognise their independence.


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