The world's first jet suit race took place in Dubai

By TravelWiseMar 10, 2024 15:29 PMNews
The world's first jet suit race took place in Dubai
Thrill seekers took part in the world's first race in jet suits. Source:

The pilots lined up on the runway in Dubai and started their seven jet engines with an ear-splitting roar. But they were not preparing to fly – they were the airplane.

It is a city-state in the United Arab Emirates, known for being home to the world's tallest building and other wonders. Dubai hosted what is being called the first-ever jet suit race. Racers raced along the route, along which the skyscrapers of Dubai Marina towered, controlling jet engines on their arms and backs. This was reported by

"The closest analogy would be a dream of flying... And then to fly anywhere. And so, the world of Marvel superheroes and DC comics have created this dream book with computer graphics, and I think we're the closest we've come to making it come true," said Richard Browning, founder and chief test pilot of Gravity Industries, a firm that competed with Dubai.

Earlier, Gravity attracted global attention when it equipped the Royal Marines of the United Kingdom with one of its jet suits, which landed on a ship at sea a few years ago. Since then, they have traveled extensively with these suits and sought other military applications for them before coming up with the idea of competing with the Dubai Sports Council.

During the race in Dubai, the pilots were wearing jet suits with 1500 horsepower, which is more than the power of luxury sports cars. They used the same type of fuel as the Airbus A380 and Boeing 777 aircraft of Dubai-based Emirates Airlines. The pilots lined up on the runway used by Skydive Dubai, a thrill ride company associated with the Crown Prince of the Sheikhdom, Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum, and several skydivers descended, preparing their jet packs.

Then came what pilot Issa Kalfon called "the moment of truth." The engines roared to life, and the pilots jumped up and leaned forward. When the helicopter took off, the pilots took off as well, avoiding obstacles in the water channel near the site. The organizers said they chose a place on the water to ensure greater speed and safety, as the pilots fly a short distance over the water.

Currently, the jet suit can reach speeds of up to 80 mph (128 km/h). During the race, the pilots picked up speed, and two of them even collided with each other, but remained in the air while the crowd watched in amazement.

"It's really amazing to see that they can do this in Dubai and these guys are flying over the water. It looks like astronauts are flying in space," said Jennifer Ross, a 50-year-old US citizen from Houston who now lives in Dubai.

Although Dubai is known for its beaches, bars, and souks, it has long been a city that fascinates flying, especially because it is home to the world's busiest airport for international travel. The city has been toying with the idea of flying taxis for years.

Kalfon, who eventually won the competition and lifted the golden jet turbine, admitted he was nervous before the flight, but described the jet suit as safe and easy to use.

"Everything is hot, everything works, the engines scream. And the flag goes down, and it's just great..." said Kalfon.

There was one accident during the race. Emirati pilot Ahmed al-Shehi fell into the water in the middle of the race, went in feet first, but immediately jumped back out to give a thumbs up to the rescuers. The announcer said that he had only 12 days of training before the race.

Meanwhile, spectators looked at the jet suits, some saying they couldn't wait to ride.

"In Dubai, you can see the best show because people are flying - they are flying in the sky. This is the next level of technology. It's very nice because if you're a big Iron Man fan, you know, Tony Stark, then this is Iron Man technology," said Pratik Vyas, 35, from Gujarat, who works in the import-export business.

TravelWise previously reported on some of the best transportation innovations of the past 90 years.

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