This is cool:
A couple of weeks ago — May 14, to be exact — a Swiss man named Yves Rossy (a.k.a., “Fusion Man“) made headlines (and secured a little piece of history) when he strapped on an 8-foot jet-powered wing and leaped from an airplane, soaring over the Alps. Rossy spent years developing his device, and successfully flew the first jet-powered wing in November 2006. There’s been a smattering of R&D on jet packs to propel human beings dating as far back as World War II; Rossy’s invention is the first to combine a jet pack with actual wings.
It’s been a big month for would-be aviators. In April, another Swiss man — what is it with the Swiss these days? — jumped from a hovering helicopter and floated to earth using a pyramid-shaped parachute he built himself, based on a design by Leonardo da Vinci. Olivier Vietti-Teppa found the specifications in a da Vinci text dating back to 1485: four equilateral triangles, seven meters on each side, that Vietti-Teppi made from modern parachute fabric, using a square of mosquito netting at the base of the pyramid. Furthermore, later this year, Red Bull will hold three “flugtag” competitions in the US — Tampa Bay, FL, in July, Portland, OR, in August, and Chicago in September — whereby aspiring aviators build their own flying machines and then push them off a 30-foot platform (deliberately built over water) to see how far — or if — they can fly. Most drop like a stone into the water, but generally, a good time is had by all. And some of the whimsical designs can be a lot of fun; there have been machines shaped like Homer Simpson, a pimped-out Cadillac, a giant Oompah-Loompah, and even a big red lobster named Larry. (For those not inclined to build their own machines, there’s now an online game.)
Almost as long as mankind has been sentient, I’d wager we’ve been trying to find some means to fly, with more than a few casualties along the way.