Monday, September 29, 2008
QUICK – WHAT DO THE ROCKET MAN, a FRENCH BALLOONIST, and CANADIAN DINOSAURS HAVE IN COMMON?
You may have heard it on the news over the weekend that Swiss aerial adventurer Yves “Rocket Man” Rossy has done it – he’s crossed the English Channel with his rocket-powered wings! In an era that’s given us extreme sports of every imaginable kind, the Jackass movies, and reality TV, this is one stunt that I find truly admirable and exciting. It must have been completely exhilarating to be him, crossing from one side to the other over the open water under his own power. AP reported:
He made the 22-mile trip from Calais in France to Dover in England in a little under 15 minutes.
He began the Friday flight just before 1207 GMT; by 12:15 GMT, Rossy was above British soil and looped over onlookers before opening his parachute, with his wings still strapped to his back.
He touched down in a field near the famous white cliffs of Dover.
The trip across the Channel is meant to trace the route of French aviator Louis Bleriot, the first person to cross the narrow body of water in an airplane 99 years ago
My first reaction was, how neat that he has such a sense of history. My second reaction was, Wait a minute…did you say Louis Bleriot? Could there possibly be a connection to the Bleriot Ferry I remember from my years in Alberta? If you drive along the Dinosaur Trail in the Alberta Badlands, at some point you will have the opportunity to cross the Red Deer River on a small (and I mean small) car ferry, one of the last remaining cable-operated ferries in Alberta. The trip barely takes 5 minutes, as I recall, and there’s a shady little day-use camp site on one side, with a pretty stand of cottonwood poplars – a great spot at add Western Kingbirds to your life list, too.
Through my searches I learned that the Bleriot Ferry is indeed named after famous French pilot and balloonist, Louis Bleriot. Bleriot was the first person to fly across the Channel in 1909, while the Bleriot Ferry first piled the waters of the Red Deer not long after, in 1913. I would love to know who is responsible for picking the name of the ferry, and why. I’ve taken that trip several times on hiking and viewing trips in the Badlands, so now I feel like I’m just a degree of separation from both Rossy and Bleriot, and both historical crossings of the waters! Well, in my mind, anyway…
(This video of Rossy is from his first test flight, not the actual Chennel crossing)
Photo from www.hammerheadtours.com
Video by YT member you8888zz