One of many famend “jetman” pilots died in a crash final November when their emergency parachute did not deploy from the winged rear engines, in response to an initial report from TechXplore.
Nevertheless, this raises the query: when life hangs within the steadiness of some strings and a parachute, are jet packs actually the way forward for human flight?
Parachute of ‘jetman’ deployed solely after the crash
No clarification was forthcoming from the Common Civil Aviation Authority of the United Arab Emirates as to why the 36-year-old Vincent Reffet of France did not use his parachute whereas falling mid-training flight within the desert of the sheikdom.
Investigators described Reffet as an “skilled skilled skydiver” and jetwing pilot, and mentioned the video from his Nov. 17 crash depicted the pilot dropping management, getting into a backflip whereas hovering roughly 800 ft (240 m) above the bottom. These backflips aren’t the tip of the road when carrying the wings — as long as the pilot thrusts ahead by the flip maneuver, in response to the report. Reffet himself had recovered from these flips earlier than — however solely at increased altitudes.
“The dangers of the 800-feet hover [were] mentioned in the course of the pre-flight briefing and, as a danger mitigation, it was determined to abort the flight and to deploy the pyro-rocket emergency parachute ought to the jetwing turn out to be uncontrollable,” learn the report. “the investigation couldn’t decide why the pilot didn’t select this mitigating motion.”
Footage from a digital camera hooked as much as his helmet confirmed the parachute deploying — after he’d hit the ground. Earlier than this, his arms moved like he was making an attempt to enter a hover once more. The investigators additionally added that the jetwing displayed no indicators of mechanical issues earlier than or throughout flight.
A sudden solemn finish for an excessive athlete
The coaching flight aimed to simulate takeoff from the ground, with a triangular flight sample adopted by a jet-powered touchdown on a platform simply 800 ft excessive. Whereas a helicopter was concerned within the check — flying at that altitude to signify the platform, there have been zero indicators its presence was linked to the crash. The intense sports activities enterprise XDubai that sponsored the flight is linked to the crown prince of Dubai: Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, however no hyperlinks have been drawn to this affiliation, both.
The crash got here as a sudden solemn finish to a powerful collection of accomplishments for Reffet — who BASE-jumped off of the Burj Khalifa, the tallest constructing on the planet at 2,716 ft (828 m) excessive, and setting a brand new world report. BASE stands for constructing, antenna, span, and Earth. Reffet additionally nabbed gold medals as a competitive free-flying skydiver on a workforce.
In October 2015, Reffet flew over Dubai parallel to an Emirates Airbus A380 airplane — the world’s largest passenger plane — sustaining an altitude of 4,000 ft (1,219 m). Whereas his Nov. 17 crash of 2020 is really tragic, it additionally serves as a morbid reminder that, in contrast to different types of transportation, the one failsafe to the jetpack is a parachute — which is often reserved for emergencies. And when your life actually hangs by a couple of strings, if something goes wrong, you die.