He then moved to the civil sector but
kept ties with the military as a reserve officer. His latest position was as captain flying
Airbuses for Swiss International Air Lines.
That was before he took a sabbatical in 2008
to work full-time on his wing.
The Jetman concept traces its roots to
Yves’ experience in sky diving. In the early
1990s, he envisioned that a sky diver in free
fall could maneuver better in a standing
position. “This is more natural,” Yves said.
He became one of the “skysurfing” pio-
neers, though the early trials were not really
satisfactory. “On something that is adapted
from a surfboard, horizontal movement is
hardly faster than what you can achieve when
you lie face down,” he said. So Yves started
experimenting with surfing on an aerody-
namically shaped board, and the results were
better, yielding a 2. 5 lift-to-drag ratio. For
safety when testing his prototypes, Yves fas-
tened his feet to the board with bindings that
he could release. He was on his way.
YVES’ FIRST WINGS
So he designed a rigid wing glider, constructed of carbon fiber, which he could
strap to his back with a harness and could
release in flight. He was undaunted by history. “Those who tried this sort of wing, as
early as the 1950s, killed themselves because
they could not release the wing,” he asserted.
The first wing Yves attached to his back
In his quest to fly with total
freedom using only his body to
steer, Yves’ flying has evolved
from sky diving to sky surfing.
He tried sky diving with wingsuits
before strapping a wing to his
back that would allow him to
glide. With the addition of model
jet engines, Jetman was born.
Yves started by experimenting with sky surfing. Here he is surfing
a model of the Mirage fighter he flew in the Swiss Air Force.
Using an inflatable wing, Yves improved his lift-to-drag ratio to 4-to- 1. With this wing he glided
the 12 kilometers across Lake Geneva.