Details about the flight were announced by Rossy’s publicity handlers on Tuesday, after swissinfo.ch reported the successful completion of the stunt by the Swiss daredevil, based on confirmation from two people close to the event.
Flying his jet-propelled wing attached to his back, and steering only by moving his body, Rossy launched from a helicopter at 2,440 metres above the the Grand Canyon, according to his Geneva press office.
Skimming the rockscape at speeds of up to 300km per hour, Jetman sustained flight for more than eight minutes, 60 metres above the rim of Grand Canyon West before deploying his parachute and landing smoothly on the canyon floor.
The flight along one of the United States’ best-known natural wonders had originally been planned for Friday but was postponed because of delays with permission, much to the disappointment of the crowd that had gathered for an eye-level view of Rossy.
“My first flight in the US is sure to be one of the most memorable experiences in my life, not only for the sheer beauty of the Grand Canyon but the honour to fly in sacred Native American lands,” Rossy said.
“Thank you Mother Nature and the Hualapai Tribe for making my lifelong dreams come true.”
The former Swiss jet fighter pilot flew along portions of the canyon rim in uncontrolled airspace over Guano Point, a region governed by Hualapai Native Americans, about a five-hour drive west of the popular South Rim area of Grand Canyon National Park.
Tied in knots
Rossy postponed the flight because of lack of preparation time. “This is a very challenging place,” Rossy said standing on the rim. “Big air currents, steep walls. Without training I don’t want to take the risk of presenting something unprofessional.”
Having no journalist present on Saturday may have helped Rossy to regain some focus. The 52-year-old who lives in canton Vaud had hinted that the pressure of having so many people watch him attempt a difficult flight with no practice had caused him to lose sleep.
“I have a knot in my body,” he said. “Sorry for that. I’m human.”
The sudden cancellation had left journalists scratching their heads and spectators disappointed at missing the chance to watch the world-record-holder in action.
“I really wanted to see it,” said Donnyell Walker, a Hualapai who had earlier performed traditional “bird” dances with other tribal members to help mark the feat. “I had my hopes up.”