Swiss "JetMan" finally soars over Grand Canyon

Updated at 3:31 p.m. ET

HUALAPAI INDIAN RESERVATION, Ariz. - Swiss adventurer Yves Rossy has completed a flight over the Grand Canyon in his custom-built jet suit — his first such flight in the U.S.

Rossy performed the stunt Saturday with little fanfare, before a small group of team members. He was airborne for about eight minutes, soaring 200 feet above the canyon rim on the Hualapai Reservation.

A planned Friday flight before reporters was cancelled after Rossy determined it would be too challenging without any practice runs. The Federal Aviation Administration had given him the green light less than an hour before the scheduled stunt.

Rossy's sponsor, Swiss watchmaker Breitling, announced the successful flight Tuesday. Rossy, who calls himself the JetMan, flew up to 190 mph before deploying his parachute and landing on the canyon floor.

The 51-year-old has rocketed over the English Channel and Swiss Alps in his wing suit. He says the U.S. flight is among the most memorable experiences of his life.

Rossy got the tribe's OK three months ago, after two years of talks with tribal officials, visits to the reservation and pinpointing landing sites on Google Earth. But the adventurer wasn't in contact with the FAA until a few weeks ago.

The FAA quickly went to work on Rossy's plan, going back and forth with his representatives this week over whether the jet suit should be classified as an airplane or a power glider. The FAA said it never has been asked to evaluate such an aircraft, nor does it fit neatly into any category.

Rossy's jet suit averages 124 mph and has a 6.5-foot wing span; he wears it on his back, sending fuel to the four engines with a slight roll of his hand. The FAA ultimately grouped it with airplanes.

The agency usually requires 25 to 40 hours of test flights but waived that rule for Rossy, saying he already had a significant amount of flight time with the jet suit.

The aviation world has kept a close watch on Rossy, a former fighter pilot. While jetpacks and hang gliders have taken to the skies, "this one is a bit unusual," said Dick Knapinski, spokesman for the Experimental Aircraft Association.

"It's such a unique design and a unique pursuit that it doesn't fall in the usual categories," he said.

The Hualapai Reservation is known for the Grand Canyon Skywalk, a glass bridge that extends 70 feet from the canyon's rim and gives visitors a view of the river. The reservation lies west of Grand Canyon National Park.

Comments