Aircraft

Jetpack racing could join this year's Air Race World Championship

Jetpack racing could join this...
JetPack Aviation CEO and test pilot David Mayman
JetPack Aviation CEO and test pilot David Mayman
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JetPack Aviation CEO and test pilot David Mayman
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JetPack Aviation CEO and test pilot David Mayman
The JB-series jetpacks are all capable of speeds over 120 mph
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The JB-series jetpacks are all capable of speeds over 120 mph
Rising up on a powerful column of jet turbine thrust
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Rising up on a powerful column of jet turbine thrust
Under a deal still in negotiation, jetpack pilots would race on parallel courses as part of the Air Race World Championship
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Under a deal still in negotiation, jetpack pilots would race on parallel courses as part of the Air Race World Championship
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JetPack Aviation CEO David Mayman says the company is in discussions with the Air Race World Championship team on starting a world-first race series in September that would see jetpack pilots competing on parallel aerial obstacle courses.

While about 70 percent of the company's resources are currently going to the remarkable Speeder Air Utility Vehicle, JetPack Aviation (JPA) certainly hasn't forgotten about the groundbreaking jetpacks that launched the company to worldwide prominence in 2015, when Mayman made a spectacular flight around the Statue of Liberty that would have been inconceivable with the severely limited range of previous rocket belts.

The turbine-powered JB-series jetpacks are now commercially available, and JPA is close to delivery on its first customer orders – two JB12s for military use in South-East Asia and one JB10 for a private customer in the United States. "We have qualified, serious interest for maybe about 10 other consumer jetpacks at this stage," Mayman tells us, "but we have to juggle that with the work we're doing on the Speeder."

The JB-series jetpacks are all capable of speeds over 120 mph
The JB-series jetpacks are all capable of speeds over 120 mph

A new JB14 jetpack is currently under development, which would roll in some fly-by-wire flight controller technology developed for the Speeder, allowing for things like automated LiDAR-powered height hold and yaw stabilization.

JPA has set up a training and experience facility in California, where it's possible for anyone to go and fly one of these things, and Mayman and other JPA team members have been putting on extraordinary demo flights at locations all over the world.

But things could be about to get a lot more fun.

"We've been talking to the Air Race World Championship guys," says Mayman, "they've taken over the assets of the Red Bull Air Race. We're working with them to create a parallel jetpack racing series. We'll initially field the JB-10, and eventually the JB-14 for those races. We might even field the Speeder when it's ready!"

For safety reasons, air racing is pretty much impossible to do head-to-head. But the small size of the jetpacks and the obstacles they'd be racing around means it's possible to put two, or even three parallel courses out next to each other over a body of water, and have pilots race simultaneously.

"There'll be a series of pylons, rings and hoops," Mayman says. "The obstacles will be vertical as well as horizontal; you'll have to go under this and over that, through this ring and around this pylon.

Rising up on a powerful column of jet turbine thrust
Rising up on a powerful column of jet turbine thrust

The Air Race World Championship team wants to bring in brand-name racers from other motorsports as jetpack pilots.

"Some of the folks they're thinking about are young racers, people with motorcycle experience, Dakar experience, that sort of thing," says Mayman. "We've been very clear that we'll get the ultimate say on who gets to fly!"

While the company says the dual-engine JB10 is capable of well over 120 mph (200 km/h), we're unlikely to see racers hitting these speeds; it'll be much more about agility and control.

"As probably the world's most experienced jetpack pilot," says Mayman, "I can tell you there's no way they'll be getting through those obstacles and getting much faster than 50 miles an hour (80 km/h)."

Is the world's most experienced jetpack pilot interested in suiting up for a race himself?

"Could happen, could happen," he laughs. "Or I might at least have to demo it and see what these courses are like to fly. I'm still very much enjoying the jetpacks. I'm looking forward to the JB14!"

The race series is still under negotiation, with the final deal yet to be struck. But if it's confirmed, JPA will need to act fast to be ready for its prime-time debut.

"At the moment," says Mayman, "we're talking about launching around September, so we need to build another six machines and train about 30 new pilots, which we'll then whittle down to 10. It's going to be a mission! We won't start that until we're certain it's happening, but we've got in-house instructors now that can get people through training relatively quickly."

See Mayman in action in the video below.

David Mayman flies the JB-10 jetpack around Sydney Harbour

Source: JetPack Aviation

View gallery - 4 images
8 comments
8 comments
Arcticshade
Aaaahh finally this is taking shape, after a few championships, lets get Gravity Industries to join in for some added diversity.
Jinpa
Has the company, or any actual journalist, used a decibel meter right next to the pilot's head, to measure the sound volume there? Same question about the helmet's ability to isolate the pilot's ears from that noise? Any jet engine capable of lifting itself and a human load likely will producing literally deafening noise. Stop just accepting developers' handouts and demand some factual information. OSHA says 85dBa is the beginning of damaging sound volume. What is the volume of this jetpack set?
guzmanchinky
Ok this is amazing tech, but it almost hurt to listen to the video on my laptop. I cannot imagine these anywhere near where people would have to listen to them!
HoppyHopkins
The development of early aviation was accelerated by air races, so I see no reason to believe that this will not do the same for jet packs
Steven Clarkson
Now THATS the spirit HoppyHopkins. Those complaining about noise, funny how people complain about problems by the paperloads that is a no brainer to solve: wear ear muffs !

Yes i am strictly an Electric patriot, but i will allow jetpacks to fly as this is the 2nd generation jetpacks that will eventually be electrified over time what would be the 3rd generation machines.

GO JPA go GI and bring in the Heroflyer ! It certainly would fall into this category ! Someone ought to make them aware of this !
Username
This certainly seems a better design than the one with the arm turbines.
Aermaco
Nice to see a longer flight than the rocket belt going back to 1960s. But give a Zeva body wing and really see distance and speed improve but still not better environmentally than Zeva’s energy source.
Arcticshade
@username
The one with the "arm turbines" is Gravity Industries.
You have more maneuverability with it at the cost of having to be fit. Not a problem for me but maybe for some.

Anyway i would love to see all 3 i mentioned above in the races !