Jetpack Flyers Soar Next to Giant Passenger Plane

Outfitted with rigid wing jetpacks, two skydivers share the sky with the world's biggest airplane.
Jetmen Yves Rossy and Vince Reffet fly next to an Airbus
That's a nice show for the skyscrapers © XDubai /
By Josh Sampiero

Man has dreamed of flight for centuries, and has achieved it in numerous forms. However, no one has done quite what "Jetmen" Yves Rossy and Vincent Reffet accomplished recently. Watch the video below and you'll witness their one-of-a-kind feat, flying amazingly close to the world’s largest airplane.

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. Organized by XDubai and pulled off with lots of help from Emirates Air and the local aviation authorities, the experiment made for a truly must-see video that’s going to make you want to — well, fly.

Watch the incredible feat in the player below:

© XDubai / OK, first question — who thought of this?

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?

Reffet: 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 135 kts, or about 155 mph. That still left us some power to maneuver or get out of the way if things got hairy.

Jetmen Yves Rossy and Vince Reffet fly next to an Airbus
Just hanging out by a massive passenger plane © XDubai /

What were the other challenges?

Rossy: Organization and authorization. It’s not every day that you can have such a beast of an airplane flying with mosquitoes like us, doing patterns at 4,000 feet. 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 CANNOT have an incident — nothing can go wrong. It is 100 percent safe or we don’t go.

Reffet: 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.

Jetmen Yves Rossy and Vince Reffet fly next to an Airbus
You see anyone at the beach? © XDubai /

What makes a rigid wing jetpack different from a plane?

Rossy: 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.

Jetmen Yves Rossy and Vince Reffet fly next to an Airbus
If you were a passenger, you'd see this... © XDubai /

Vincent, what drives you to push the limits with aerial sports?

Reffet: 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's driven me to put together projects like the Skycombo jump over Mont Blanc and the jump off the Burj Khalifa here in Dubai. [Note: Vince did these projects with fellow #Soulflyer teammate Fred Fugen; more links to their projects below.]

Yves, how did this project make you feel?

Rossy: 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 moonlit BASE jump at night and even storming a castle.

Vincent Reffet
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