Jetman Lands on Bloomberg Link Summit.
The crossroads of technology is coming to a convergence. Call that point smart software meets useful hardware.
In the afternoon panel, Show & Tell: Art Meets Technology, Bloomberg News Editor-as-Large Cory Johnson moderated the panel that featured Juan Montes, CTO of the Museum of Modern Art, Adobe’s Michael Gough, VP of Experience Design, Eyebeam, and Solidoodle.
The crux of the talk centered on how technology is dramatically shifting the paradigm from the professional to the amateur. The speakers discussed how Instagram effect has mashed art and technology in a very simple way—”Filters,” as Cory Johnson noted—that no one had thought of before. That basic design innovation also shifted the competitive landscape that drives competition and fuels further innovation.
Two products jumped out at the Summit. One semi-old, the other new.
Beam is a mobile, remote video-conferencing platform, a newcomer born out of robotics of Willow Garage. The other is a high profile, high-flying winged-man that sparked attention by jetting over the Swiss Alps a few years ago. In the latter, Cory Johnson interviewed Yves Rossy, CEO and the “pilot” of Jetman in a one-on-one discussion, Adventures in Aviation.
Catching up with Jetman
In meeting Yves Rossy of Jetman, this author saw a seasoned, middle-aged man dripping with experience, but filled with a twinkle in his eye. Under his warm, gregarious persona is a man filled with the passion to fly.
“My past experience is mainly as a professional aviator,” Yves Rossy told me. “First, as a fighter pilot flying Mirage 3 jets and then as a commercial captain flying 747’s and various airbus passenger aircraft for Swiss Air.”
It was during Rossy’s early 30s that he discovered free-fall skydiving.
“I loved the feeling of free-fall. But the vector was always just down,” he said. “My challenge was to change the vector to maintain straight, level flight, then climb and perfect the performance of my Jetwing to achieve the total freedom of flight. Now I can climb, do standard aerobatics. I can loop. I can roll. And I can fly in formation with Jets and other aircraft.” Pretty amazing. “I feel the freedom of the third dimension using just my body to pitch, steer, ascend or descend as simple as a boy playing with an aircraft in the playground.”
On taking the Jetwing idea to commercialization.
“The next step of progress will focus on more powerful engines. Double the power I have now with the focus to climb absolutely vertical and see how far I can improve my flight performance with this extra power. I am also exploring the possibilities to takeoff from the ground. First, with a catapult from a cliff, and then we see where we can go from there. I am instructing a second Jetman—my first student with 13,000 jumps as a skydiver and multiple as world champion. When we achieve that, we will try flying in formation. And why not just try for a Jetman squadron!”
Yves Rossy has worked on the Jetman project for 18 years with, “15 versions of the Jetwing to get to this point.”
The evolution of the Jetwing:
- Small fixed wing
- Larger Inflatable wing
- Larger rigid wing with folding tips
- With 2 engines to a delta wing with four engines
All of that culminated into, “improved wing with aerodynamics and four engines to achieve what I have today,” he said, concluding, “Each of my current wings cost $125,000 plus. All these years and I dread to think how many millions of euros, manhours and number of friends and people participating, helping and assisting to make the project possible. I thank them all and I wouldn’t be here without them.”
Yves Rossy really is the birdman… at sonic speed.