One of Dubai's “jetmen," whose flights over the world's tallest building and alongside a jumbo jet with engines strapped to his back wowed watchers online, died Tuesday while training in the deserts of this Arabian sheikhdom, his organization said. Vincent Reffet, 36, of Annecy, France, was killed during the training, Jetman Dubai said in a statement. The organization did not elaborate, though it said it was “working closely with all relevant authorities,” the AP reports. “Vince was a talented athlete, and a much-loved and respected member of our team,” its statement said. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and all those who knew and worked with him.” The thrills were in Reffet's blood as his parents also were skydivers.
Reffet had BASE-jumped off the Burj Khalifa, the world's tallest building at 2,716 feet, in Dubai, setting a world record. He earlier earned gold medals while competing as a free-flying skydiver on a team and competed as an extreme athlete sponsored by Red Bull. But the general public in Dubai came to know Reffet as part of Jetman Dubai. The organization, founded by Swiss adventurer Yves Rossy, sees its athletes zip across the sky with a four-engine, carbon-Kevlar wing strapped to their backs. The wings can fly 30 miles, have a maximum speed of over 248mph, and can reach an altitude of 20,000 feet. The jetmen have flown past the Burj Khalifa and other sites around the city-state. Famously in 2015, Reffet and Rossy flew alongside an Emirates Airbus A380 double-decker jetliner over Dubai. "With this machine," Reffet said in 2015, "I can fly like a bird." (Read more Dubai stories.)