But I wonder how high he'll go. How close can he get to his ever-evolving dream without killing himself? Plenty of pioneers before him died trying to fly in one way or another, and surely the difference between them and him isn't merely strength of conviction. For all Rossy's assurances about backup plans, methodical testing and safety imperatives, sometimes the dream comes frighteningly close to snuffing out reality. He tells me about another of his close calls, this one in the lead-up to the Channel feat during a test flight in Empuriabrava, Spain. Again in a spin, he put his hands up next to his ears, a position that he'd discovered often solved the problem. Except this time it didn't. He was fast approaching his minimum altitude but didn't want to jettison the wing and risk damaging it, so he popped his chute with the turbines still running. Smoke and fumes billowed up under the canopy before he could kill the jets, disorienting him. He landed in a controlled crash with a 25mph tailwind. When he looked up, he saw that he was in a nature preserve: silent except for some rustling of leaves, a mare looking on and a few ducks gliding on a lake. "I'm coming down with my carbon-fiber, high-tech, four-engine thing, and I land on my knees in a perfect nature picture," Rossy says, laughing and shaking his head at the irony. "Who is wrong here? On the one hand, I realize I'm doing something totally unnatural. I know if I were a bird, I would have feathers. On the other hand, I'm human. And it's not only doing the wing, but it's a way for me to elevate personally, in the whole sense of the word. To create something, to discover something new."