Watch CBSN Live

It's A Bird, It's A Plane...

Swiss pilot Yves Rossy is set to cross the English Channel strapped to a homemade jet-propelled wing, organizers said Thursday.

Weather permitting, Rossy will leap from plane more than 2,700 yards off the ground, fire up his jets and try to make the 22-mile from Calais in France to Dover in England in about 12 minutes, according to a statement put out by his organizers.

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.

CBS News correspondent Richard Roth reports the 49-year-old Swiss Air Force and airline pilot has spent more than five years developing the jet-powered, strap-on wings

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.

Thursday's trip 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 one day hopes 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.

Rossy says his last trial flight, over the same distance as the channel crossing, went "swimmingly." Roth notes that, while a very positive assessment, it raises a thought the pilot may wish to avoid during Thursday's attempt.

View CBS News In