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Rocket man fails to fly from Morocco to Spain

A Swiss adventurer has gone down in the Atlantic while trying to fly from Morocco to Spain on jet-powered wings. A rescue helicopter has pulled him from the water and he appears to be unhurt.
Image: Yves Rossy in the water off Tangiers
Swiss Yves Rossy in the water off Tangiers after ditching at sea after trying to fly from North Africa to Europe using a jet-powered wing attached to his back.- / AFP - Getty Images
/ Source: The Associated Press

A Swiss adventurer went down in the Atlantic on Wednesday while trying to fly from Morocco to Spain with jet-powered wings strapped to his back. A rescue helicopter pulled him from the water and he appeared unhurt.

Yves Rossy took off from Tangiers but five minutes into an expected 15-minute flight he was obliged to ditch into the wind-swept waters.

"The good news is that he fine," said Stuart Sterzel, spokesman for 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 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.

Rossy was flown to a hospital in the southern city of Jerez for a precautionary checkup.

Sterzel said a full rescue rehearsal with Rossy in the water had been carried out Tuesday and the team had been fully prepared.

He said Rossy would probably attempt the crossing again in the new year.

Homemade wing
The Spanish coast guard was expected to retrieve the wing and the parachute from the sea.

Rossy, a 50-year-old former fighter pilot, had attempted the feat wearing a homemade wing spanning 8 feet and powered by four kerosene-fueled jet engines.

A small plane took him to an altitude of 6,500 feet, Rossy then jumped out and began his flight.

His endeavor had been billed as the first intercontinental crossing by man using jet-powered wings — over the North Atlantic between Africa and Europe.

Rossy provided the first public demonstration of his homemade aircraft in May 2008, doing figure eights over the Alps before touching down near the eastern shore of Lake Geneva.

He flew across the English Channel in September last year, going from Calais, France, to Dover, England.

This time the weather was of particular concern because Rossy had to fly over the spot where the Atlantic flows into the Mediterranean through the Strait of Gibraltar. This makes for high winds that can suddenly change direction, or blow in two directions at once at different altitudes, organizers said.

"We are very proud of him," said Sterzel. "We are extremely satisfied with his attempt but if something is easy it's not a challenge."