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A Working, Winged Jetpack from Switzerland 125

Posted by timothy
from the rephrasing-the-flying-cars-question dept.
serutan writes "A Swiss airline pilot and self-described adrenaline junkie named Yves Rossy has developed a working jet-pack and flown it more than 30 times. Actually, it's a pair of rigid carbon fiber wings strapped to his back, with two small kerosene-powered jet engines on each wing — essentially a small jet airplane using the pilot's body as the fuselage. His flights have lasted up to 6-1/2 minutes at speeds over 100mph. Rossy's website and YouTube have some pretty cool videos of him flying around over the mountains like Buzz Lightyear. He is working toward ground takeoffs and landings, but currently he jumps out of an airplane, unfolds the wings and flies until he runs out of fuel, then parachutes to the ground."
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A Working, Winged Jetpack from Switzerland

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  • hmmp (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 25, 2006 @09:19AM (#17359418)
    That's not flying, it's falling with style.
    • To Infinity, and Beyond!

      This jetpack looks cool, I would be worried about the landing however, it looks heavy.
      • by StartCom (1018308)
        Don't think so. It's heavy when full of fuel, but that's gone at landing...Leaving only the fiber wings and jets.
        • Did you see the way it pushed him over on landing in the video?

          It literally pushes his legs from under him and pushes him over his ankles.
    • Nausicaa (Score:1, Insightful)

      Yeah thats much more like assisted gliding than anything else. When he can take off from a standing start, like in Nausicaa [stomptokyo.com] (valley of the wind), I'll be impressed. Also his landing technique seems a bit hair raising. Do you fold up the wings before or after you deploy the parachute?

      • Re:Nausicaa (Score:5, Insightful)

        by rucs_hack (784150) on Monday December 25, 2006 @10:14AM (#17359616)
        The dude jumps out of a plane with a homemade jetpack and flies around for six minutes, and you're not impressed?

        Holy crap...
        • Re: (Score:1, Insightful)

          by rfunches (800928)
          The dude jumps out of a plane with a homemade jetpack and flies around for six minutes, and you're not impressed?

          When the hardest part seems to be a controlled ground takeoff (and maintaining control until you can get up to speed), no, I'm not impressed. It's a neat expensive toy that requires another neat expensive toy -- the plane -- to function. I'll be impressed when it can function by itself.

        • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

          The dude jumps out of a plane with a homemade jetpack and flies around for six minutes, and you're not impressed?

          Power assisted gliding [pointvista.com] is nothing new, it has been around for a while now. What he's doing is a cool stunt, yes, a fun toy if thats what floats your boat, but its hardly groundbreaking (no pun intended). Its not like he was in any real danger, what with the parachute strapped to his back and everything. Or if he was it was danger of his own making. So no, not impressed.

          • ....but...

            Its not like he was in any real danger...?
            Its not like he was in any real danger...!!


            Spheres.
            Mighty spheres.
            Especially the first time!
            I don't care how many plan B's they had.
        • Re:Nausicaa (Score:4, Interesting)

          by constantnormal (512494) on Monday December 25, 2006 @11:41AM (#17359976)
          I'm impressed by the fact that he was his own test pilot ... ... learning the flight characteristics on the way to the ground ...

          Obviously, a quick learner.

          I'd be interested in knowing what his "Plan B" was in the event the wings folded up in flight, or one engine exploded.
          • by ceoyoyo (59147)
            Throw his chute the same way he lands when he runs out of gas?
          • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

            by Adriax (746043)
            "Oh father who art in heaven..."?
          • Well, he is a former military pilot...so the learning curve for him probably wasn't as high for him as it would be for most.
          • by Tablizer (95088)
            I'm impressed by the fact that he was his own test pilot ... ... learning the flight characteristics on the way to the ground ... Obviously, a quick learner.

            Death is a big motivator.
                 
        • by SnprBoB86 (576143)
          Um... He made a reference to Toy Story...
      • You mean something like this [slashdot.org] or this [slashdot.org]?
    • HELL YEA
    • by thewiz (24994) *
      Just as long as he doesn't yell "Buzz... Buzz... Buzz Lightyear to the rescue!" when he jumps out of the carrier plane.
  • by Eudial (590661) on Monday December 25, 2006 @09:24AM (#17359446)
    It isn't the flying that's the hard part, it's landing with the bones in your body intact.
    • Any landing you can walk away from is a good one. If you can re-use the airplane, it's a great one. Apparently he's made a number of great landings.

      Seriously, I think the guy's nuts, but damn that was cool to watch. I know the U.S. military experimented with flying platforms at one time: does anyone know if they ever worked on anything like this? He says he's working on the ability to have ground takeoffs in the next version. That's actually starting to sound like it might become a useful application of
    • It isn't the flying that's the hard part, it's landing with the bones in your body intact.

      Which is why he uses a parachute.

      Don't get me wrong, it's cool and all... But it requires falling out of a plane for while in order to launch the thing and then still needs a parachute to land. It's a small step beyond the guys who've been jumping for years with flying squirrel type wings stitched in to their jump gear (in that this guy adds a rigid wing and power) but it's a long way from a truly useful jet pack that'
      • There's a reason why most records include being able to return to where you started from for it to count. We would likely celebrate Sir Edmund Hillary, the first guy to the top of Everest, far less if he got dropped off by plane and simply climbed down or Rould Amundsen if he got dropped off at the South pole and simply collected food caches along the way back.

        He was able gain altitude and keep pace with his launching aircraft. He could have returned to the airplane if he was willing risk striking the p
  • Watch the videos (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Hellad (691810)
    Pretty damn awsome! The landing can be seen as well; he makes it look easy. The wings fold up and he simply parachutes down like its nothing. I was more shocked when I saw him simply jumping out of a plan with a giant pair of wings on his back; scary stuff.
    • The wings fold up and he simply parachutes down like its nothing....Then as he touches the ground the momentum causes his legs to be pushed over and risks breaking his ankles easily.
    • by emilng (641557)
      The best part of the videos were the comments
  • I wish I got one of these for Christmas. Merry Christmas Slashdot!
  • by hedgemage (934558) on Monday December 25, 2006 @09:43AM (#17359500)
    The biggest engineering obstacle he had to overcome was how to fit in the corkscrew.
  • by mangu (126918) on Monday December 25, 2006 @10:05AM (#17359576)
    Something that amazes me is that there are hobbyists building those model jet engines from scratch, using detailed plans that this guy [wikipedia.org] published in this book [amazon.com].


    After him, several other people published books on building small jet engines, like this one [amazon.com], for instance.

    • by owlnation (858981)

      Something that amazes me is that there are hobbyists building those model jet engines from scratch, using detailed plans that this guy published in this book.

      I think "amazes" isn't the word I'd use. I was thinking the Swiss is guy is really cool - crazy - but really cool. Then I see your post about people building planes based on designs from Wikipedia and I realize the Swiss guy is the paragon of sane and normal.

      They'd build something as dangerous as a plane based on plans from one of the world's most

    • by cheekyboy (598084)
      So it wouldnt take much to get a $120 1ounce GPS ciruit and strap on a ipod with rokbox installed as a guidance computer, make it deliver a 10ounce C4 explosive on impact.

      Instant RPG, but using mini jets instead of rocket power, sure its slower, but still fast enough and have a decent range.

      All at 1/100th the cost of a military contractor.

      • by nebbian (564148)
        It's harder than you think. Intertia, timing, wind gusts, and the like all add up to make it very very tricky. It might not explicitly be rocket science, but damn it's close!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday December 25, 2006 @10:10AM (#17359602)
    ... Just throw yourself at the ground and miss.
  • I love his Swiss accent ;)
    --
    "I can't search. I uninstalled Google." - P. Ducler
    • by mabu (178417)
      FYI, Swiss has no native language that isn't a homogenization of other languages (Swiss-German being the closest to their own langauge, which does differ in many ways from traditional German). The country has three distinct areas where the native language is either Italian, German or French.
      • You are right, but you forgot one language. Romansh (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Switzerland)
      • by grolschie (610666)
        You are confusing accent with language. Germans could easily recognise the accent (and of course the dialect too) as being from Switzerland. Just like how they can easily recognise accents from various regions of their own country. It's not just a dialect thing. Calling it a Swiss accent is spot on.
      • by StartCom (1018308)
        Actually four, including Romantsh...But than, calling the Swiss-German, German...is almost insulting the Swiss. Seriously! Except that, the Germans don't understand it, perhaps at most a few words here and there.
        • by mabu (178417)
          Actually four, including Romantsh...But than, calling the Swiss-German, German...is almost insulting the Swiss. Seriously! Except that, the Germans don't understand it, perhaps at most a few words here and there.

          It doesn't take much to insult the Swiss, seeing as they're so fiercely independent. But it was my Swiss friend in Switzerland who characterized Rmantsh as "Swiss-German" and an analysis of the language shows it is basically some sort of superset of German, bastardized by the Swiss.
  • This guy is looking for sponsors. Richard Branson should get his wallet out. A truly stunning achievement. The last shot in the video is inspiring.
    • This guy is looking for sponsors.

      Tip for this guy: try the Swiss Navy. :)

      The last shot in the video is inspiring.

      Agreed. The image will haunt me for a long time, in the best possible way. I'm glad I saw this.
  • by caffeined (150240) on Monday December 25, 2006 @10:44AM (#17359706) Homepage
    If you don't speak French, I'll give a brief summary of his comments.

    Basically, at the beginning he explains a bit about how it was designed. One point he made was that his reason for the foldable design of the wings was so that it would fit in the plane. The other interesting thing he said was that the design was effectively that of an airplane - with his body serving as the fuselage.

    After the flight he just explains that after he jumped out of the plane he did a little half-turn to catch the wind. He also mentions that the wing unfolded nicely - and that when he kicked in the gas that he moved forward and he could tell that at that point he was flying. He said it was really cool, too. (Which I think we'll all agree is the case!)

    Also - I'm not a native French speaker. I'm American but lived in Paris a couple of years - any native French speaker care to comment on the guy's accent? Is that a Swiss accent? (I'm presuming so, but I was curious to know from a native.)

  • ...is my own jetpack to improve my commute!
  • Dear Santa (Score:5, Funny)

    by sbaker (47485) * on Monday December 25, 2006 @10:55AM (#17359784) Homepage
    Dear Santa,

    If it's not too late, I would like to add a jetpack to my Xmas list. You can cross off the PS3 if that helps.

    Thanks!
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by niktemadur (793971)
      Dear Santa,

      If it's not too late, I would like to add a jetpack to my Xmas list.


      In case Santa doesn't have time to check his inbox today, you can always try the Three Wise Men on January 6th. You gotta be in a spanish-speaking country, however, 'cause that's where the Three Zoroastrian Magi (Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar) show up with gifts for children (of all ages).
  • by HairyCanary (688865) on Monday December 25, 2006 @11:03AM (#17359838)
    I wouldn't think he'd be aerydynamic enough with a sack that large hanging underneath..
  • hate to spoil the fun, but:
    • Just on general principles, it's unlikely he's really flying, as in having enough thrust to overcome drag.
    • Jet engines do not scale down very well-- somewhere around the size of a kosher salami the friction exceeds the power generated, the thrust to weight ratio drops very quickly, making the thing little more than a swooshing kerosene heater.
    • We need some more facts, such as jet engine thrust, specific fuel consumption, and cost.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Deadstick (535032)
      Yeah, well, here's what you can do with one or two kerosene heaters:

      http://www.metacafe.com/watch/207659/amasing_rc_je ts/ [metacafe.com]

      ...and here's what you can do with eight:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbITzCI2AU0 [youtube.com]

      Those little hairdryers deliver up to 50 pounds of thrust and sell for $3000-$5000.

      rj

      • >Those little hairdryers deliver up to 50 pounds of thrust and sell for $3000-$5000.

        Thanks! Some facts at last. I stand corrected-- he may have been flying.

        But please realize that these things are doubly inefficient--

        1. Jet engines work best at speeds comparable to their exhaust-- at typical human flight sppeds under 100MPH only a small fraction of the thrust is delivered as useful power.
        2. Scaled-down jet engines of this size are intrinsically inefficient.

        Combine these two gotchas and you have th

        • by Deadstick (535032)
          Oh, it's inefficient all right. Efficiency is for FedEx. Flying around with jet engines on your feet is for getting laid.

          rj
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      The article should've probably linked to this video too:

      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j-66AcTo9TU [youtube.com]

      Truely inspirational. For some reason I cried for the first time in many years (can't remember when the last time was). This guy is my new hero.

      He should get a donation link at his website.

    • There was a magazine article on a similar technology over 30 years ago. I believe it was in Popular Mechanics: using small jet engines purchased from the US Air Force, with 30 miles per gallon fuel economy and a cruising velocity of roughly 100 mph, and a lift capacity of roughly 300 pounds. It was VTOL, and under the aircraft licensing of the time would have been considered an "ultra-light" and not required a pilot's license.

      The builder wanted to switch to duced fans for commercial use: I never knew what b
    • I've read about this in various skydiving publications. He was actually able to generate enough lift to ascend. So yes, he really is flying.
  • ...for Christmas.
  • Can't wait to see it souped up with all kinds of spy stuff and weapons.
  • I can see the next development, to assist in landings and to support the assembly for a true takeoff from land, put a tricycle landing gear on it, than make it a bit more comfortable for the flier by giving him a seat of better support. With a seat we can fasten the controls down and dress up the wiring and cabling some. Add a windshield because you really don't like being hit by other flying creatures at 100+ mph.

    Oh wait, that's called an airplane.
  • are some miniature VTOL engines, would solve his takeoff and landing problems.
    • by mikehunt (225807)
      In what particular way will this solve the problem?

      His feet are just where the thrust from those VTOL
      engines will be coming down. (unless he takes off from
      his belly - not a good sales argument).

      jets + thrust = hot!
  • by Have Blue (616)
    Why does the article keep mentioning Batman? He can't fly himself and uses jetpacks very rarely.
  • Sooooo kewl. Hat's off to Rossy.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    At the end of the XIX Century a French Academic Organization (I dont remember its exact name) introduced the notion of airplane as a machine which can fly and CAN TAKE OFF ON ITS OWN (no catapult, no rails, no nothing, only the planes engines).

    For example, Wrights brother contraption was not an airplane because although it could fly,it cannot take off on its on (this is the reason why many nations believe that the Wright brothers did not invent the airplane). The same with this contraption, it can fly but i
    • First of all, I can't even begin to see a rationale for "no rails" unless you ban runways or other ground improvements as well.

      Second, who cares how the French define the meaning of an *English* word? These are the same people who are up in arms over the pollution of thier language with "Big Mac" and "Le Picnic", so what's sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander... McDonalds keeps their fingers out of l'Academie Francais and they keep their fingers out of the OED.
    • by cheekyboy (598084)
      I saw a documentary that showed that the Wright bros invented a lot of flying technologies like the twisted propeller and wing aerofoils etc...
      So basically without them a lot of people couldnt do it, it doesnt matter that someone else may have made a more powerfull rotary engine, since that
      is really more of a general purpose part.
  • The art of flying (Score:2, Redundant)

    by flyingfsck (986395)
    is to deliberately throw yourself at the ground and miss. The important part is to miss and he seems to be doing it the right way - stay far away from the ground while flying and land by chute.
  • paypal donate button! I'll donate $50 right now to see him devlop this some more.
  • by bxbaser (252102) on Monday December 25, 2006 @01:51PM (#17360620)
    engines grenade 2 feet from his groin
  • This is why Dog created wings and jet engines.
  • It doesn't even take off from the ground.
  • A Swiss airline pilot ... has developed a working jet-pack and flown it more than 30 times. ... he jumps out of an airplane, unfolds the wings and flies until he runs out of fuel, then parachutes to the ground.

    The 35th jump went well until he accidentally unfolded the cork screw and magnifying glass instead of the wings and plummeted to his death.

  • What we need is a device that's sorta like a flying Segway... it detects changes in stability and corrects for them. Seriously, having propultion from one's leg area seems like a pretty good way to go, as jet engine mounted anywhere else could risk serious injury. Plus, there's no way that a human could survive a horizontal, runway landing. Any individually mounted jet-pack would have to take off and land virtically. So, the closest thing I can think of is something like a flying segway that attaches to you
  • He says "it's like God holding you by a handle and taking you for a ride" -- Translation from a helpful Youtube commenter http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bEXxkWXncuo [youtube.com] (great video)
  • ...or are you just happy to see mee?"
  • Well not that old, but still, I did totally mention it last week. Be sure to check out the electricity man too.

    http://slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=213172&cid=173 37636 [slashdot.org]

  • nuf sed
  • Kinda, with Jet Boots [google.com] and a skydiving wingsuit, says he had level flight for a good 30 seconds.

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