Not too long ago, a jetpack was something only seen in science fiction tales. It wasn’t until very recently that the American company Jetpack Aviation turned it into a reality. They even made it a commercially available item! Now, they’re taking it a step further by moving into the exciting world of jetpack racing.
To prove this concept can work, they completed a pair of test flights in which two jetpack pilots flew within close proximity of one another.
David Mayman, CEO of Jetpack Aviation, told Digital Trends:
“We tested how close two jetpacks can fly together without causing turbulence or interference with each other’s engine inlet air. The tests were carried out above a lake in Southern California with our twin-engine JB10 jetpacks. We did many runs up and down the lake, with the pilots slowly getting closer and closer together on each run, and found that they could fly within inches of each other when on the same level. They could also hover beside each other with the pilots taking hand grips. We also tested fight profiles where one jetpack was above or below the other, and found that as long as there was some horizontal airspeed, this works fine and doesn’t disrupt inlet air.”
The Race Is On
The jetpacks that are to be used in racing will be able to fly over 200mph. Head-to-head racing isn’t going to take place just yet. The first race trials will likely require pilots to navigate around obstacles, emphasizing speed and maneuverability. For safety’s sake, they will be held over water. But after a few years they’ll start doing races over land as well.
The most exciting part of all (as if jet pack racing isn’t exciting enough) awaits us in the future. They want to explore the possibility of airborne sports similar to Quidditch. Although, it will be advised for spectators to bring some earplugs if they intend to watch the games from the sidelines because, according to New Atlas, the pilots whizzing by will ‘sound like a group of fighter jets going past!’
Mayman elaborates on how he envisions the spectator sport of the future will be like:
“Initially, we see this as a similar format as the Red Bull air races, pilots will have to navigate around pylons, and we are also working on some barrier concepts for vertical maneuvers. e.g., imagine flying over a wide horizontal inflatable beam but then having to turn around and come back underneath it. We’ve even looking at the options of controlling a ball. We’ve demonstrated it’s possible to hover, grab a ball, place it in a chest pouch, and then fly or take a ball between the pilot’s legs. A real game of Quidditch!”
Looking For Players
Having successfully proven the ideas safely, the company is now inviting prospective teams and event promoters to express interest in participating in jetpack races. To do this, teams will need to secure funding or sponsorship to purchase or lease multiple jetpacks. Then JPA will provide the necessary training and maintenance.
As far as other companies getting involved, Mayman said that all manufacturers are welcome so long as they can demonstrate that their aircraft are safe. He has even been in touch with other jet turbine VTOL personal flight developers, and says he hopes the racing series could “become a place where other companies can also demonstrate their contribution to the future of transportation.”