World's first jet suit race is slated for February 28
Gentlemen, start your turbines – it's time to see how these spectacular next-gen personal flight devices look and perform in the fire of competition. Gravity Industries has announced the world's first jet suit race is happening in less than a month.
They say the first motorcycle race happened the day the second motorcycle was built. It's taken a little longer for jet suits – we first covered Gravity founder Richard Browning's early forays into Iron-Man-style jet suits nearly seven years ago.
But Gravity has done a solid job advancing its unique take on turbine-powered personal flight. Where Mayman Aerospace has specialized in traditional-looking jetpacks and flying motorcycles, and Zapata has gone for jetboards and high-speed flying go-karts, and the Jetman team has created lightning-quick jet wings, Gravity's jet suit runs a single jet turbine integrated with its fuel tank backpack, and places four more turbines on the pilot's arms.
Having the turbines on your arms makes this a very physical machine to fly – not that the others aren't, but here you're supporting most of your body weight through your shoulders and arms, and using them to maneuver as well. So if you can hold an iron cross on the ol' gymnastics rings, you'll probably find the Gravity suit incredibly agile and fun to fly.
You can buy one of these 1,050-horsepower, 27-kg (60-lb) contraptions yourself for about US$483,000, plus tax – or plonk down a more accessible $3,500 to go fly one on a tethered training rig for a day.
And after many years of exhibition flights, emergency response test flights, military exercises and even live-fire exercises with shoulder-mounted, head-tracking weapons systems, now Gravity is getting ready to go racing.
Under a deal signed with the Government of Dubai, the world's first jet suit race will take place February 28, in the area between Dubai Harbor and Skydive Dubai, as part of the Dubai Boat Show. An Emirati pilot, Ahmed Al Shehhi, has gone into training with Gravity in the UK, and plans to participate in the race alongside seven other pilots.
It'll be a circuit race, so the FPV drone video above should give you an idea what it'll be like from the racers' point of view. Gravity has been developing the concept for several years, and while it's unclear whether this will be a time trial or a head-to-head race, the company certainly has plenty of experience with multiple pilots flying in close proximity to one another, so the idea of two or more jet suits flying the course at once isn't out of the question. The suits will be modified for buoyancy and protection from drowning in the case that somebody lands in the drink.
"Our Gravity Race Series promises even more visceral excitement and drama than Formula One,” says Browning in a press release. “We will not be satisfied with organizing a flying and racing display only; we also seek to increase the intensity of competition and excitement in the event through the flight path that includes challenges for the competitors that require maneuverability, accuracy and flight speed to determine the four best competitors who will then vie for the top three places and take the podium."
Bring it on, team! We look forward to watching this unique event unfold.
Source: Government of Dubai