Jetson? No, Jetpack. A Different Path to UAM
While the rest of us have been focused on eVTOLs, hybrid VTOLs, and other evolving modes of urban air mobility (UAM) transport, one person – Richard Browning of Wiltshire, Salisbury, England – has been busy charting a different flight path toward UAM. He’s developed a working jetpack.
As founder and chief test pilot of Gravity Industries, Browning has been perfecting a mode of air transportation that’s been the stuff of science fiction and our imaginations for more than 100 years. Russian scientist Alexander Andreev first applied for a patent for a personal jetpack in 1919.
Browning’s jetpack consists of a harness that carries two turbines on each arm and one on the back. A button at the pilot’s fingertips increases and decreases power to the turbines and thus, lift. Each nudge of the button adds a few kilos of thrust.
The diesel engines currently can propel the pilot/rider for about 10 minutes. Shifting the body’s center of gravity provides directional change.
While Browning believes the first applications will be entertainment-oriented (think jetpack races), he has also joined the Great North Air Ambulance Service, a UK-based charity emergency transport service. Browning and the Service think jetpacks might prove useful in providing faster first-responder services in areas troubled by rough terrain. In a test run in the UK’s Lake District, Browning reached a hypothetical catastrophe scene in 90 seconds compared to the 25 minutes it took to reach the scene by walking.
The Wright Brothers would be proud. Maybe even envious.