French ‘human plane’ flies at 1,800m for first time

The stunt by the Frenchman was called "a landmark moment in the quest to achieve 100% autonomous human flight"

A Frenchman dubbed “the human plane” has flown at an altitude of 1,800 metres for the first time ever, using a carbon fibre “wing” propelled by four mini motors.

Athlete Vince Reffet - also known as the “Jetman” - can reach speeds of up to 400kph using the machine, and achieved the “world first” altitude on February 14, after taking off in Dubai.

Mr Reffet flew several metres above the Dubai Gulf before soaring to 1,800 metres. He took eight seconds to reach 100 metres; 12 seconds to reach 200 metres; 19 seconds to 500 metres; and just 30 seconds to reach 1,000 metres - at an average speed of 130 knots.

He opened his parachute to start the descent at an altitude of 1,500 metres. The flight was three minutes long in total.

The stunt was sponsored by the organisers of the Universal Exhibition 2020 - “Expo 2020: Connecting Minds, Creating the Future” - which is set to take place in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) city from October 20 this year.

Fifty preparatory flights were tested before the official stunt itself, including 100 takeoffs and landings using a cable, and a safety system in case of a fall. Flights were also tested next to a backup safety helicopter.

In a statement, Expo 2020 Dubai said: “We’re delighted to celebrate a landmark moment in the quest to achieve 100% autonomous human flight.”

Mr Reffet said: “We are so happy we achieved this incredible flight. It’s the result of extremely thorough teamwork, where each small step generated huge results. Everything was planned to the split second, and I was overjoyed by the progress that was achieved. It is another step in a long-term project.

“One of the next objectives is to land back on the ground after a flight at altitude, without needing to open a parachute. It’s being worked on."

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