Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 26 November 2020

French 'Jetman' Vince Reffet dies in training accident in Dubai

The accident happened near the aerial stunt team's base in the desert and is under investigation

Latest: Sheikh Hamdan leads tributes to Vince Reffet

Vince Reffet, a French member of the Jetmen team, died in a training accident on Tuesday.

The Jetmen, who performed groundbreaking stunts above Dubai using jetpacks and carbon-fibre wings, have carried out several dramatic flights over the emirate over the years.

"It is with unimaginable sadness that we announce the passing of Jetman Pilot, Vincent (Vince) Reffet, who died this morning, 17 November, during training in Dubai," Jetman Dubai said in a statement on Instagram.

"Vince was a talented athlete, and a much-loved and respected member of our team. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and all those who knew and worked with him."We are working closely with all relevant authorities and ask that you please keep Vince's family in your thoughts and prayers."

The accident, which happened at Reffet's Jetman base in the desert outside the city, is now under investigation, reported AFP.

Reffet, 36, made headlines this year after a video of him taking off from the ground and rising to 1,800 metres over Dubai's waterfront went viral.

The Frenchman hovered five metres above the waters of Dubai's coast before shooting off into the air and skimming the city's skyline.

According to the XDubai YouTube page, it was the "first time that a Jetman Dubai pilot [was able to] combine hovering safely at a limited altitude and flying aerobatics at high altitude in the same flight".

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, applauded the Jetman team after the high-octane human flight.

"A major milestone in the quest to achieve 100 per cent autonomous human flight. Well done, boys," he said.

The Jetmen had previously launched themselves into the air by jumping down from high platforms, soaring in tandem above Burj Khalifa and alongside an Emirates Airbus A380 – the world's largest commercial airliner.

The Jetman team also includes fellow Frenchman Fred Fugen and Emirati pilot Ahmed Al Shehhi.

Last year, Reffet and Mr Fugen also flew through the famed "Heaven's Gate" archway in the mountains of China's Hunan province as part of a video campaign to promote Expo 2020 Dubai.

The project aims to demonstrate what can be achieved with technology and nerves of steel, along with promoting the world fair next year in Dubai.

The Frenchmen worked with Swiss former military pilot Yves Rossy, who invented the carbon-fibre Jetman pack.

The winged jetpack can reach speeds of more than 260kph and travel for about 55 kilometres.

Updated: November 18, 2020 01:03 PM

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