Man has dreamed of flight for centuries – but no one has ever come as close as 'Jetmen' Yves Rossy and Vincent Reffet. And after watching this video, you’ll see something else no one has ever come this close to: the world’s largest airplane – in mid-air.
Within sight of the stunning skyscrapers of Dubai, the fast-flying duo juxtaposed jet-streams with the world’s biggest bus – the Airbus A-380. The stunt, organised by XDubai and pulled off with lots of help from Emirates Air and the local aviation authorities, made for a truly must-see video that’s gonna make you wanna, well, fly. Watch below, then read our exclusive interview with the pilots.
Watch the incredible stunt in the player below
OK, first question: who thought of it?
Vincent Reffet: Actually neither of us! It was a friend of his named Bruno Bokker, a skydiver, cameraman and videographer. We first discussed the idea back in 1999.
Yves Rossy: Bruno and I, we happened to be friends with a man called Tom Enders. Tom’s pretty big at Airbus – and he happens to be a skydiver. So we started thinking even back then about how to make it happen – but the jetpack technology wasn’t there yet.
Can you really fly as fast as an Airbus?
VF: We had to work to find a common middle speed. Slow for the Airbus, fast for us – but we weren’t at full speed. We were about at 135kts, or 250kph. That still left us some power to manoeuvre, or get out of the way if things got hairy.
What were the other challenges?
YR: Organisation and authorisation. It’s not every day that you can have such a beast of an airplane flying with mosquitoes like us, doing patterns at 4,000ft [1.22km]. The air authorities from the UAE were very open to doing that and they understood the challenge. The next challenge was coordination. Us, the A-380, the drop heli, the film heli, the film plane. And of course, we can NOT have an incident – nothing can go wrong. It is 100 percent safe, or we don’t go.
VR: We couldn’t have done it without the help of his Highness Sheikh Hamdan Crown Prince of Dubai for his constant support, and our sponsor XDubai, and Emirates Airline for their trust and the all team behind this challenging project.
What makes a rigid wing jetpack different from a plane?
YR: Input. You fly the wing. With everything else – you grab a joystick in the [plane] cockpit, the handles on a paraglider – you give input to the machine and the machine gets your body there. With the wing, you move your body, and you take the wing with you. That’s flying.
Vincent, what drives you to push the limits with aerial sports?
VR: I’ve been dreaming about flying since I was 15. My dad was a skydiver, and I never cared about the sport – until I tried it. I was immediately hooked, and I’ve been doing it now for half my life. Flying my body is what I love, and it’s what driven me to put together projects like the Skycombo jump over Mt Blanc and the jump off the Burj Khalifa here in Dubai. (Note: Vince did these projects with fellow #Soulflyer teammate Fred Fugen.)
Yves, how did this project make you feel?
YR: Like a tiny mosquito! It started as an idea – to have the smallest jet and the biggest jet flying at the same time. It is such a big plane!
When he's not flying jetpacks next to airplanes, Reffet, along with Fred Fugen, is part of the Soulflyers skydive team. Their stunts include world record BASE jumps from the Princess Tower in Dubai, flying 'Top Gun' style over France, doing a moon-lit BASE jump at night, and even storming a castle.