Aircraft

Skyflash: Jetman-like wings designed to allow ground take off

Skyflash: Jetman-like wings de...
The Skyflash one-man, jet-propelled wing undergoes testing
The Skyflash one-man, jet-propelled wing undergoes testing
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Wing assembly
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Wing assembly
The outer-wing segments
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The outer-wing segments
Main wing assembly
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Main wing assembly
Main wing assembly
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Main wing assembly
Start of assembly of outer and main wings
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Start of assembly of outer and main wings
CNC machined parts for wing assembly
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CNC machined parts for wing assembly
Mounting wing stringers
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Mounting wing stringers
Wing assembly with covering
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Wing assembly with covering
Taxi test of the Skyflash one-man, jet-propelled wing
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Taxi test of the Skyflash one-man, jet-propelled wing
Mounting the GRP spars
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Mounting the GRP spars
Wing assembly
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Wing assembly
Testing flaps and center of gravity
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Testing flaps and center of gravity
Painted 2/3-scale prototype
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Painted 2/3-scale prototype
Wing assembly
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Wing assembly
Unpainted 2/3-scale prototype
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Unpainted 2/3-scale prototype
Framework undergoing painting
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Framework undergoing painting
Outer wing assembly
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Outer wing assembly
Aluminum windtest model of Skyflash
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Aluminum windtest model of Skyflash
Spars of the outer wing
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Spars of the outer wing
Skyflash CAD model
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Skyflash CAD model
1:4 scale model of inner structure of wing
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1:4 scale model of inner structure of wing
Aluminum windtest model of Skyflash
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Aluminum windtest model of Skyflash
First glide test
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First glide test
Skyflash interior design
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Skyflash interior design
Glide test
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Glide test
Skyflash awaiting tests
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Skyflash awaiting tests
Interior of the wingbody
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Interior of the wingbody
1:4 scale model completed
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1:4 scale model completed
Beginning of main wing assembly
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Beginning of main wing assembly
Beginning of assembly
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Beginning of assembly
Framework of the wingbody
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Framework of the wingbody
Engine compartment plan
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Engine compartment plan
Forward left outerwing is under construction
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Forward left outerwing is under construction
Wingbody assembly
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Wingbody assembly
CAD model of Skyflash
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CAD model of Skyflash
CAD model of the Skyflash one-man, jet-propelled wing
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CAD model of the Skyflash one-man, jet-propelled wing
Outer wing
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Outer wing
Outer wing assembly
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Outer wing assembly
Skyflash pilot mount
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Skyflash pilot mount
Wing assembly
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Wing assembly
Wing assembly
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Wing assembly
Beginning of wing assembly
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Beginning of wing assembly
Skyflash interior
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Skyflash interior
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Wing assembly awaiting covering
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Wing assembly awaiting covering
Wing assembly
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Wing assembly
View from the wingbody on the right wing
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View from the wingbody on the right wing
The outer-wing segments
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The outer-wing segments
Wing section being processed
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Wing section being processed
Frontplate of the wingbody
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Frontplate of the wingbody
Wing assembly being covered
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Wing assembly being covered
Wing assembly
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Wing assembly
The covering of the main wing
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The covering of the main wing
The covering of the main wing
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The covering of the main wing
Full-scale wing assembly
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Full-scale wing assembly
The change between outer wing and main wing section
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The change between outer wing and main wing section
Outer wing covering
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Outer wing covering
The leading edge of the right wing
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The leading edge of the right wing
Taxi test of the Skyflash jet-propelled wing
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Taxi test of the Skyflash jet-propelled wing
Skyflash in maximum elevator positio
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Skyflash in maximum elevator positio
Photoshop version of Skyflash in flight
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Photoshop version of Skyflash in flight
Full-scale wing assembly
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Full-scale wing assembly
Wing assembly
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Wing assembly
Wing assembly
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Wing assembly
Wing assembly
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Wing assembly
The wingbody
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The wingbody
Side view of the Skyflash with mounted pilot d
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Side view of the Skyflash with mounted pilot d
Wing assembly
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Wing assembly
First walk and carry tests
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First walk and carry tests
Working on fillet
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Working on fillet
Skyflash dimensions
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Skyflash dimensions
Engine test
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Engine test
Skyflash's wings are based on those of the condor (Image: Colegota/Wikipedia)
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Skyflash's wings are based on those of the condor (Image: Colegota/Wikipedia)
Taxi test of the Skyflash one-man, jet-propelled wing
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Taxi test of the Skyflash one-man, jet-propelled wing
The Skyflash one-man, jet-propelled wing undergoes testing
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The Skyflash one-man, jet-propelled wing undergoes testing
View gallery - 75 images

While most of us sit around grumbling and demanding to know, “where’s my jetpack?", German Fritz Unger and a group of friends have decided to do something about it. On a shoestring budget they are building their own one-man, jet-propelled wing. Dubbed “Skyflash,” it’s meant to not only emulate the jet wing made famous by Jetman Yves Rossy, but to go one better by taking off from the ground instead of having to be dropped from an aircraft.

Ever since he became a pilot at the age of fourteen, Fritz Unger dreamed of flying without the encumbrance of a plane. Inspired by the exploits of Rossy and world-record skydiver Felix Baumgartner, Unger banded together with some friends and began work on Skyflash with the support of web advertising and donations.

With a name right out of Thunderbirds, Skyflash is, if nothing else, ambitious. The wing, which is worn like a backpack, is designed to take off from the ground and, if successful, will be the smallest twin engined plane ever built. It’s based on the wings of the condor – a soaring bird with the ability to alter its wing structure to take advantage of variable mountain wind conditions.

Taxi test of the Skyflash one-man, jet-propelled wing
Taxi test of the Skyflash one-man, jet-propelled wing

Aircraft designers already use morphing wings on modern jetliners to help on takeoffs and landings and Skyflash’s wings change for the same reason, though on a much smaller scale. Its wings, that measure 11.15 foot (3.5 m) tip to tip, are made up of three units that separate to provide greater surface area and more lift on take off and then reunite during flight for speed and stability.

The wing is powered by two microturbine diesel jet-engines fitted into the central “wingbody," which is the part that straps to the pilot. It contains the computer and electronics and the computer links to an 8-inch graphic interface strapped to the pilot’s arm. The fuel tanks are in the wings and connect to the fuel system automatically when installed on the wingbody before flight.

Skyflash weighs 55.12 lbs (25 kg) and boasts a maximum takeoff weight of 354.94 lbs (161 kg) and has an undercarriage with 10-inch (25.4 cm) off road tires to take the load and allow Skyflash to take off from grass runways.

Engine test
Engine test

The controls for Skyflash are alarmingly simple. In addition to the wrist display, there’s a throttle held in the pilot’s right hand. Climbing and steering are achieved by the pilot shifting his body weight. The heat-proof boots worn aren't just a precaution, but a design feature because the jets’ thrust angle is controlled by dipping the boots into the exhaust like the control vanes on a V2 rocket. To turn, the pilot stretches out an arm and climbing is done by bending the knees.

Skyflash’s cruising speed is 68 knots (78 mph, 126 km/h) and its service ceiling is 11,800 feet (3,600 m). Range is 54 nautical miles (62 mi, 100 km) with a flight time of one hour. The Skyflash team is a bit coy about landing, saying that it’s “the same way you took off,” which is not very reassuring, since landing is the most dangerous part of any flight. However, safety is not ignored. Skyflash’s wings have quick release mechanisms and the wingbody incorporates a parachute.

Skyflash dimensions
Skyflash dimensions

So far, three prototypes of the wing have been built – a small aluminum model for wind tunnels and flight tests, a 1:4 scale proof of concept model and a 3:4 scale model to show that it scales up. The completed Skyflash is made out of aviation plywood covered with shrink-wrap plastic to keep costs down. The parts were fabricated using lasers and CNC technology and assembled by hand.

If the wooden Skyflash works as designed, the team will move on to Skyflash I, which will use glass-fiber construction and more powerful engines that will allow it to double its performance and quintuple its range.

The video below shows Skyflash undergoing ground tests.

Source: Skyflash

Update: This article was modified on Feb. 24, 2013, to clarify the weight of the device. The original weight listed of 286.6 lbs (130 kg) is the typical weight of the Skyflash and pilot.

View gallery - 75 images
38 comments
Todd Dunning
Coolest gizmo ever in Gizmag.
And hey - it doesn't say "Eco", "Green" or "Sustainable".
Joel Detrow
If it works, awesome!
Slowburn
That was not designed by someone who knows what he is doing. The four wheel undercarriage is much too heavy and the air intake is inefficient. I also doubt the wing provides enough lift for a reasonable takeoff/landing speed.
Dakoroman, Sydney
Dakoroman, Sydney: Skyflash shown here is still a complex machine. ROMANOZ PROPULSION SYSTEM = THRUST+LIFT=AT THE SAME TIME Romanoz Flying Machine = goes up in the air from a still position/ VTOL, hovers, enters into the water/ diving/ gliding, then breaching out of the water, back in the air, landing with complete safety. Human powered, or powered. All with the same Propulsion System: ROMANOZ. For air/ gas/ water/ snow/ sand. Airplanes without wings, "helicopters" without rotor blades, Deltaplanes/ wings human powered/ or powered with no need for thermal air/ hills/ wind, start flying from the street/ park, landing anywhere. Many, many applications for air/ water/ underwater.
MaxImumCommand
Awesome project, looking forward for more news! According to their website the plane weighs about 25kg. 130kg is the total weight including the pilot - Easy to carry I think...
Dan Barkley
Taking off is optional, landing is compulsory. Would like to see a (safe) landing.
Ian Mitko
Landing IS NOT the most dangerous part of any flight. Taking off is the most dangerous because you're going slow, running out of runway and you can go into an unrecoverable stall or not gain enough altitude to clean obstacles.
Vince Pack
Combine the propulsion and wings with the Jean-Yves Blondeau designed "roller suit" and that could be an even more interesting device. I'd definitely NOT want to take off or land that thing on anything but a smooth paved surface. A dirt or grass runway would beat the doodoo out of you.
OR remove the wings and have a jet propelled roller suit. Hmmm...
The Hoff
Awe Todd don't let those guys on your radio make you afraid of the future. It's going to be "Eco", "Green" "Sustainable" and have jetpacks. We're lucky to see it all unfold here on Gizmag. Great project, keep us posted.
Gadgeteer
Sorry, I'll believe this thing can fly only if it ever takes off. People have been "designing" these things for ages. None have flown. I think somebody's been watching The Rocketeer again.