Reno Presents Challenges for Jetman

Reno Air Races' high desert conditions tests wing-flyer's airshow performance.

Jetman in Reno

Jetman in Reno

** Yves "Jetman" Rossy flies over Reno.**

Yves Rossy, aka Jetman, took to the skies at the National Championship Air Races and Air Show, which took place this past weekend in Reno, Nevada. This, the second show during Jetman's U.S. visit after AirVenture in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, presented some new challenges for the man who straps a jet-powered carbon-Kevlar wing to his body, which essentially functions as a fuselage and multi-directional control surface.

The biggest challenge, Rossy said, was the altitude. The field elevation at Reno/Stead Airport is more than 5,000 feet, which meant Jetman jumped out of his helicopter into very thin air at 11,000 feet. "The wing doesn't fly quite so smoothly [at that altitude]," Rossy said. "We had to recalibrate the engines to enable them to start with less oxygen present."

Rossy also said that his equipment prevents him from landing safely in winds above 20 knots. He had to cancel Sunday's performance because the winds were gusting to 28 knots. At those winds, he would risk getting "dragged through the desert shrubs and brushes," he said, a risk he was understandably not willing to take.

During part of his performance, Jetman appeared to be flying a circular pattern just like the race airplanes way down below, but he said he was not using pylons as a guide because at 2,000 to 3,000 feet agl he had trouble seeing them. Spectators on the ground had the same problem and were pretty much limited to the jumbotrons to watch his performance.

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Watch Jetman soar over Reno in the video below.

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