A mountain rescue jet pack being tested gives rescuers 300 pounds of thrust, the equivalent of 1,050 horsepower at their fingertips.
Jet Packs. We want them, and we want them now. Do they make sense? Do they actually work? It kind of doesn’t matter.
The good news is there are custom 3D-printed suits made by the UK’s Gravity Industries and there’s a use for them. Using the power of five compact gas turbines they grant the user a short trip at fairly low altitudes. The downsides? They cost $440,000 each and burn a gallon of jet fuel (or diesel) a minute.
Still, there are numerous applications where these attributes are all acceptable, including technical support of offshore wind farms, various Navy missions, and as the Lake District’s air ambulance service will now demonstrate: Mountain rescue over difficult terrain.
The Great North Air Ambulance is a charity covering Cumbria, the North East & North Yorkshire in England. Entirely funded by the public, their required budget is $8.28M a year, mostly because rescuing folks with a helicopter is expensive. More crucially, reaching patients by helicopter can be impossible due to the regular appearance of thick fog over their area.
Looking at alternative means of flying, they’ve been training with Gravity Industries founder Richard Browning for over a year now.
Having come from a family of aviators, Richard Browning started his jet pack venture back in 2017. Before that, he also signed up for the Royal Marines Reserve for a while, only to learn how to hold up his body in various challenging positions, apparently. What’s for sure is that his reassuring body control led him to believe that attaching gas turbines to his arms and legs could work out just fine. Several crash-happy prototypes later, the leg-mounted jets evolved into a fancy backpack, and the Gravity Industries Jet Suit was born.
Once satisfied with its performance, Mr. Browning even went back to the Royal Marines to show them how cool his kit can be over water:
The usefulness of the above is questionable in a combat situation, but for rescue when no one is shooting at you presents some obvious opportunities.
The company is now working on a jet suit racing series, as well as an electric variant called the eSuit. Labelled the world’s first electric jet suit, their current prototype is made of carbon fibre, aluminum and 3D-printed
polypropylene, delivering 330 pounds of thrust through small propellers, which consume 105kW of power at full throttle from a pack of high-discharge LiPo batteries. The range… you don’t want to know.
Meanwhile, the Great North Air Ambulance’s exciting training program is partly financed by the renewable energy company Ørsted, a major player in the offshore wind industry. Because remember: your Gravity Jet Suit can fly higher over the safety of water. Calm water, that is.