Pilots turn into ‘Iron Man’ in world’s first jet suit race in Dubai

Gravity Industries World First Jet Suit Race Dubai
Dubai hosted the world’s first jet suit race, showcasing pilots navigating through the skies with cutting-edge, Iron Man-like technology. Images courtesy Gravity Industries

Dubai, a city synonymous with architectural marvels and technological innovations, recently hosted a spectacle that seemed to leap straight out of a science fiction narrative. The event saw eight pilots, donned in jet suits reminiscent of Marvel’s Iron Man, take to the skies against a backdrop of towering skyscrapers and luxurious yachts. This event marked the world’s first jet suit race, blending the realms of sport and cutting-edge technology in a display that captivated spectators and participants alike.

Organized by the Dubai Sports Council and Gravity Industries, the race introduced a new dimension to racing, quite literally. Pilots navigated a one-kilometer course, weaving through twelve giant inflatable obstacles scattered across the water. The competition was fierce and unpredictable, featuring four heats that led to a dramatic final round. Each race lasted approximately 90 seconds, a brief yet intense showcase of skill, speed, and technology.

Richard Browning, the chief test pilot and founder of Gravity Industries, shared insights into the unique challenges of three-dimensional racing. The event not only tested the pilots’ abilities to control their jet suits but also their spatial awareness, as they had to maneuver around competitors flying at different altitudes. The race was not without its share of drama, including disqualifications and minor mishaps, adding an element of unpredictability to the proceedings.

The technology behind the jet suits is as impressive as the spectacle it creates. Equipped with five engines, including a large one on the back and two micro jet engines on each arm, the suits are capable of generating the power equivalent to a Bugatti Veyron sports car. Made from a combination of 3D-printed polymer, aluminum, and titanium, these 30-kilogram suits allow pilots to reach speeds of up to 85 mph (136 kilometers per hour). Pilots navigate by adjusting the position of their arms, a technique that requires precision and practice to master.

Gravity Industries Jet Suit Sam Rogers
Sam Rogers, Chief Design Officer at Gravity Industries, demonstrates the features of the 30 kg jet suit, capable of reaching 85 mph.

Despite the inherent risks associated with any adrenaline sport, Gravity Industries emphasizes safety by conducting flights low to the ground and over water or grass. This approach not only minimizes the risk of serious injury but also adds an element of excitement for spectators.

The event was not just a showcase of technological prowess but also a platform for inspiring future generations. Browning hopes that witnessing the capabilities of the jet suits will encourage young people to dream big and pursue careers in science and engineering. The race also served as a testing ground for pilots with varying levels of experience, from seasoned veterans of Gravity’s team to newcomers like Ahmed Al Shehhi, the sole representative from the UAE, who had only three weeks of intensive training prior to the race.

Gravity Industries World First Jet Suit Race Four Heats
Two competitors zip through a heat in the world’s first jet suit race with the iconic Ain Dubai framing their high-speed duel in the skies.

Beyond the thrill and spectacle, the jet suit has practical applications that are being explored in fields such as search and rescue, medical response, and military operations. Gravity Industries has collaborated with various organizations to demonstrate how the jet suit can transform operational capabilities, from speeding up mountain rescues to facilitating ship boardings by military personnel.

The Dubai jet suit race is just the beginning. Gravity Industries plans to expand the competition into a championship with at least 12 competitors, hoping to ignite imaginations worldwide about the potential of human flight. Browning envisions a future where the technology not only entertains but also serves humanity in novel and impactful ways.

Gravity Industries World First Jet Suit Race Mishap
Despite minor mishaps, including a pilot’s splashdown, Gravity ensured all jet suits were equipped with flotation devices, keeping pilots buoyant and safe.

As the world watched pilots soar through the Dubai skies, the event transcended the boundaries of sport and spectacle. It represented a convergence of innovation, ambition, and the human spirit, proving that the future of mobility and adventure is as boundless as the skies themselves. With the promise of more races and the potential for broader applications, the jet suit is poised to change our perception of what is possible, one flight at a time.

Source: Gravity Industries