A special photoshoot that I went to with a big question in my head: “Do people really fly”? I immediately got the answer when I met the JETMAN team and the sky flyers Vince Reffet and Fred Fugen, French athletes with an impressive list of accomplishments in the world of extreme sports. Joining the journey that will create a future for individuals flying with Jet-wings was as absolute a privilege to me, as just knowing that one day would change the way we experience the world. Every photographic record that changes the future and is to be remembered through history has a special meaning for me and probably every other photographer.
The whole JETMAN project for this year was conceived in several stages and this was just one of them. Preparation training as well as equipment testing in several flights was the master plan for the start of our project in Spain. Xdubai as the main leader of this project has made several of its JETMAN bases, one of which is in Empuriabrava. A perfect place and one of the best in Europe for parachuting, wingsuit flying and all kinds of aerial sports. In addition to XDubai, EXPO DUBAI 2020 is one of the main funders and therefore the JETMAN project is called the “HUMAN FLIGHT” mission. For a period of just over a year, Vince Reffet and Fred Fugen need to fly off independently from the ground, rise to a height of several kilometers and then independently land back on the ground. At this moment, they take off and jump out of the helicopter and after a flight that lasts between 8-13 minutes, they land with a parachute.
With all this going on, Vince and Fred will be supporting Ahmed Hassan Alshehhi, an award-winning athlete from the UAE to become the first Emirates to achieve autonomous human flight by 2020. The 31-year-old has successfully undertaken 5,300 skydive jumps and his other aviation skills include paramotor, excitor, paragliding and speed flying. After 2020, nothing will be the same again because the HUMAN FLIGHT mission will change the World and through photos I will try to give the right answer to my question from the beginning of the text: “Do people really fly”!
FROM THE PHOTOGRAPHER’S PERSPECTIVE
All my past experiences in aerial photography of different subjects have helped me to get the JETMAN in front of my lens in most cases just as I imagine even before the flight itself. In such photoshoots, communication with the athletes I photograph as well as with the helicopter pilot I fly with is of the outmost importance.
As one of my friends that I took on one such photoshoots would say, “Everything moves and nothing is ever the same”, so with that exact reason planning is the key and most important part of it! Vince and Fred are very experienced flyers and are able to achieve whatever anyone desires of them while in the air, so birds can certainly be jealous of them. This level of athleticism absolutely facilitates everything the photographer could possibly want and the chances for good photos are upscaled to many more possibilities.
WHAT IS MISSION HUMAN FLIGHT
Mission: Human Flight is a program launched by Expo 2020 with the high-octane organization XDubai to achieve 100 per cent autonomous human flight. In a series of milestone stunts, JETMAN will amaze and entertain the planet while also embarking on a journey of discovery.