There’s an old adage about buses: You wait ages for one to come, then two turn up at the same time. Well, it turns out the same rule is true for jetpacks — but, in this case, it’s totally a good thing. Having waited decades for jetpacks to step beyond science fiction and into real life, the U.S. company Jetpack Aviation is ready to move into the exciting world of jetpack racing. And, to prove its concept, it recently completed a pair of test flights in which two jetpack pilots flew within close proximity of one another.
“We tested how close two jetpacks can fly together without causing turbulence or interference with each other’s engine inlet air,” David Mayman, CEO of Jetpack Aviation, told Digital Trends. “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 tests went smoothly, and Jetpack Aviation 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, while JPA will provide the necessary training and maintenance. Mayman said that he’s “certainly open to other manufacturers getting involved” — so long as they can demonstrate that their aircraft are safe.
“Initially, we see this as a similar format as the Red Bull air races,” he said, laying out his vision for the spectator sport of the future. “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!”
Jetpack skeptic or not, who wouldn’t be excited by that idea?