• Jen Booton

Jetman Sets Record With First Stand-Up Jetpack Takeoff

Iron Man-like suit propels man to altitude in less than three minutes.

Jetman pilot Vince Reffet took off from his own two feet on Feb. 14 in Dubai, just like a real-life superhero. He flew a mile into the sky in less than three minutes and set records for both the way he took off and the altitude he reached.

In past Jetman stunts, pilots were given a flying head start by launching off choppers. This milestone proved that Jetman can now fly directly upwards from a standing start, which is critical toward their mission of developing fully autonomous human flight.

Reffet, a professional skydiver and BASE jumper, was equipped with a carbon fiber wing powered by four mini jet engines. The Iron Man-like suit is controlled by the human body and can reach speeds of up to 250 miles per hour.

“We are so happy we achieved this incredible flight,” said Reffet shortly after landing. “It is another step in a long-term project. 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.”

For the first flight, he hovered 16-feet above the Arabian Gulf for 100 seconds and performed a series of flight tests -- stopping short, turning and moving backwards -- to prove he had full control. He then landed smoothly back onto the Skydive Dubai runway.

Reffet took off for a second time and headed south while ascending rapidly. He reached 328 feet in eight seconds, 656 feet in 12 seconds, 1,640 feet in 19 seconds and 3,280 in 30 seconds. Once he reached his top altitude of 5,900 feet, he performed a roll and a loop. He then descended slightly and pitched his parachute to float safely back to Skydive Dubai.

Engineers have built a manually controlled “thrust vectoring nozzle” that allows the pilot to control rotations around the vertical (yaw) axis at zero speeds. That makes human control possible without the aid of an electronic stabilization system.