Frenchman planning pedal-powered Channel flight

Adventurer took four years to perfect 'Zeppelin bike'

A 39-year-old Frenchman is to attempt a world first Tuesday by crossing the English Channel on board a pedal-powered airship.

Weather permitting, Stephane Rousson will leave Dungeness beach in southeastern England at 3:30 am (0230 GMT) and hopes to reach northern France, 55 kilometres/33 miles away five hours later.

Gliding 30 metres/100 feet above water, he intends to make the crossing in a semi-reclining position under the 16-metre (52-feet) long airship, steering it with two propellers on either side of the pedals.

An extreme sports enthusiast and qualified pilot, Rousson said he hoped to achieve what adventurers had been trying to do for the past 100 years -- failing each time because the materials used for the airship were too heavy. He said it took him four years to prepare for the crossing.

In 1979, US cyclist Brian Allen made the same crossing on board a pedal-powered aeroplane.

© BikeRadar & AFP 2008

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