Weather Forces 'Fusion Man' to Cancel Plan to Rocket Across English Channel

Swiss adventurer Yves Rossy canceled plans Thursday to cross the English Channel strapped to a homemade jet-propelled wing after clouds rolled in over the white cliffs of Dover and hampered visibility.

Rossy said the flight would be rescheduled for Friday, when the weather is expected to improve.

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"It's not so safe to fly across water if you can't see," he told National Geographic Channel in a live television interview. "I don't have any instruments and I need to be able to see the landing site."

The pilot plans to leap from plane more than 8,800 feet off the ground, fire up his jets and try to make the 22-mile trip from Calais in France to Dover in England in about 12 minutes, according to a statement put out by his organizers.

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"It is still prototype — not 100 percent reliable," Rossy told reporters at a news conference. "Every time there is tension."

In his first public demonstration of the device in May, Rossy turned figure eights high above the Alps, performing fluid loops from one side of the Rhone valley to the other.

Click here to view YouTube video of Rossy in flight Part 1 | Part 2.

The trip across the channel is meant to trace the route of French aviator Louis Bleriot, the first person to cross the Channel in an airplane 99 years ago. Rossy has told The AP he hopes one day to fly through the Grand Canyon.

Organizers said cameras installed in the launch plane, on a helicopter following Rossy, and on the jet-wing itself will relay images of the trip live online.

The carbon composite-wing weighs about 121 pounds when loaded with fuel, and carries four kerosene-burning jet turbines to keep him aloft. The wing has no steering devices — Rossy moves his body to control its movements.

He wears a heat-resistant suit similar to that worn by firefighters and racing drivers to protect him from the heat of the turbines. The cooling effect of the wind and high altitude also prevent him from getting too hot.

Rossy said he expects to survive if he is forced to abort the flight and parachute into the English Channel. He said he would simply cut his engines, open his parachute, and try to avoid the large boats in the busy Channel shipping lanes. A strong life vest would keep him afloat, he said, and a rescue helicopter would pluck him from the sea.

Rossy said he was ready for another try.

"I'm not disappointed," Rossy said. "If it was easy, everyone would do it. ... But I cannot control the weather."