DIY: this jetpack only needs “a runway and clearance” to take off



This young German is either very stupid or very brave, or some combination of it: Fritz Unger says he was inspired by daredevils like Felix Baumgartner and Yves Rossy, and decided in 2007 that he would like to take to the air. After developing a miniature jetpack, he is now working with a few friends on a full size prototype with wooden wings. The final version should be a backpack with carbon wings powered by two jet engines – delivering a combined 160 HP “equivalent to driving a midsized car”.

As Unger told Discovery Channel: “We hope to be able to fly in a real sense of meaning of flying in a couple of months”. You can see him in these videos, doing trial runs. His prototype is almost ready, all he needs now is a long runway and proper air clearance, he says.

The Skyflash wings have a span of 3,4 meters, and the pack weighs about 25 kg. The wings deliver 160 horsepower, powered by diesel fuel.

According to the team, a full tank should allow for a range of about 100 kilometers. Flying is done by moving the body, landing and taking off requires a four wheel landing gear that the pilot carries on his body.

This is how Gizmag describes the flying controls:

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.

For emergencies, the pack includes a parachute. Also, a teeth guard would be advisable, if you ask me.

The story sounds suspiciously similar to the story of Jarno Smeets last year – which was an elaborate hoax by Dutch artist Floris Kaayk. The difference is that Unger was filmed with his jetpack by the Discovery Channel, so I would say that lowers (not eliminates) the chance that this is a hoax. Kaayk used 3D animation. To be continued surely.

UPDATE

We told the team on their Facebook page about our article about them. This is their reaction:

Thank you very much for sharing our project! But since we hear this very often..: What can we do to, once and for all, stop this ‘Jarno Smeets’ comparisons?

I told them a good way to dispell the doubts would be to “fly and land safely with independent observers”. Their answer was: “No problem”. :-)

[Gizmag, Skyflash]

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Raf Weverbergh

Editor of whiteboard. Raf Weverbergh was a magazine journalist whose work appeared in magazines like Rolling Stone, Playboy, Mail on Sunday, Publico and South China Morning Post. He is the co-founder of FINN, a corporate communications agency where he advises startups and multinationals on their PR and Mustr, the easiest media database for PR professionals. You can contact him on Twitter, Linkedin or Skype (rafweverbergh).

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