Jetpack-Flying Man Makes History with Ground Launch and 'Incredible' High-Altitude Flight

Joelle Goldstein
Jetpack-Flying Man Makes History with Ground Launch and 'Incredible' High-Altitude Flight

Humans appear to be getting one step closer to traveling by jet pack.

Jetman Dubai announced on its website that the company had made history alongside Expo 2020 Dubai on Friday by successfully launching pilot Vince Reffet from the ground into a high-altitude flight via jet pack.

Though Jetmen have previously taken off from elevated platforms, such as a helicopter in flight, this was the first time that they managed to achieve the task from the ground, the company explained.

“This milestone proved that Jetmen can now fly directly upwards from a standing start without the need for an elevated platform,” Jetman Dubai wrote.

“We are so happy we achieved this incredible flight,” added Reffet in a statement. “It’s the result of extremely thorough teamwork, where each small step generated huge results. Everything was planned to the split second, and I was overjoyed by the progress that was achieved.”

The “autonomous human flight” saw Reffet, who was equipped with a carbon-fiber wing powered by four mini jet engines, take off from the runway of Skydive Dubai and fly up to 5,905 feet in altitude and up to 248 mph in speed.

During the historic flight, Reffet was able to control the equipment he was using to fly — often hovering over a body of water, making loops and stops in the air, and changing directions.

Jetman | XDubai

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At one point, the Jetman pilot hovered over the Arabian Gulf waters for 100 seconds and traveled towards Jumeirah Beach Residence, building his speed and height in mere seconds, the company stated.

“Traveling at an average speed of [149 mph], he climbed [328 feet] in the air in eight seconds, [656 feet] in 12 seconds, [1,640 feet] in 19 seconds and [3,280 feet] in 30 seconds,” Jetman Dubai recalled of Reffet’s flight.

After three minutes, the Jetman completed his airborne journey by performing a roll and loop in the air, 5,905 feet above ground. He then deployed his parachute at 4,921 feet and safely landed back at Skydive Dubai.

Besides it being the first time that a Jetman had successfully launched from the ground, the company confirmed that this also marked “the first time that a Jetman pilot has combined hovering safely at a low altitude and flying aerobatics at a high altitude in the same flight.”

The accomplishment, developed by three engineers — Mohammed Rashid Chembankandy from India, André Bernet from Switzerland and chief engineer Matthieu Courtois from France — comes after a tedious preparatory process, which included more than 50 flights with over 100 take-offs and landings under a cable with a fall arresting system.

In-flight tests besides a helicopter were also used during the practice period to prioritize the Jetman’s safety, according to the company.

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Though researchers were thrilled with their success, they are continuing to work on the jetpack’s development, particularly with its parachute function, in the coming months ahead of the Expo 2020 Dubai from Oct. 20, 2020, to April 10, 2021.

“It is another step in a long-term project,” Reffet explained in his statement. “One of the next objectives is to land back on the ground after a flight at altitude, without needing to open a parachute. It’s being worked on.”

Expo 2020 Dubai leader Aysha Al Nuaimi also said, “We’re delighted to celebrate a landmark moment in the quest to achieve 100 per cent autonomous human flight.”

“It’s fitting that the stunt was performed here in the UAE, the nation of no limits, as Expo 2020 and Jetman Dubai continue to highlight that anything is possible when you combine innovation, passion, creativity, and hard work,” the leader added.