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Company Demos Personal Aircraft, Future Jetpack 98

Posted by Zonk
from the biggest-toybox-ever dept.
coondoggie writes "Earlier this week researchers with the company ESG Elektroniksystem in Germany demonstrated a form of 'strap-on jet wing' that lets a user truly fly through the air. The system, called Gryphon, consists of a six-foot wing and hand-held rotary controls for the rudder. The pilot has several different instruments available to him, including onboard oxygen and helmet that features a heads-up display. 'Researchers say the final version of the flying wing will contain an electronic system that will take care of some of the steering for the pilot which today can be a little tricky, researchers say. The company also plans to add small jets to the wing making it a true jetpack in the future.'"
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Company Demos Personal Aircraft, Future Jetpack

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  • by cmowire (254489) on Friday September 14, 2007 @09:20PM (#20611843) Homepage
    If you read the article, you see that there's not an engine in the thing right now.

    This is a short and unwieldy wing that straps on your back and lets you fly farther from where you got dropped out of an airplane. You still need a parachute to land. You still need a real aircraft to lift you up for you to start your flight.

    Not nearly as impressive as the headline seems to indicate.
    • by MrDoh1 (906953) on Friday September 14, 2007 @09:24PM (#20611869) Journal
      Way to burst everyone's bubble by reading the article.
      • by rts008 (812749) on Saturday September 15, 2007 @01:59AM (#20613535) Journal
        See this link in TFA to help keep your bubble from completely bursting.http://www.spiegel.de/international/spiegel/0,1518,428830,00.html [spiegel.de]

        I know it goes against /. rules to RTFA, much less check out links in TFA, but in this case I did.

        Disclaimer: I was a paratrooper, and this intrigued me...I wish I could be a part of bringing this about, but my teflon kneecaps (from the last jump I ever made...#433) dissuade me from trying to keep up with the young ones now.

        I wish them all of the success in the world for this, military AND civilian applications!
        Fsck hang gliding, parasailing, etc...jump out of a C-130 at 20,000 ft. with a Gryphon and an O2 bottle and CRUISE like superman for more than a few very short minutes before having to 'pop the chute' and worry about the ground!

        Pedants need not reply...If you haven't went HALO, you have no concept of WTF is going on here!
        The only possible better physical experience than HALO, is HALO with sex...but there is that whole windchill/cold temp thing to deal with!
        • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

          by phoenixwade (997892)

          Pedants need not reply...If you haven't went HALO, you have no concept of WTF is going on here! The only possible better physical experience than HALO, is HALO with sex...but there is that whole windchill/cold temp thing to deal with!
          The Master Chief says there are Two things better than HALO - and one of them is going to be released next week.

          --Wade

        • Re: (Score:1, Flamebait)

          by Viol8 (599362)
          "The only possible better physical experience than HALO, is HALO with sex...but there is that whole windchill/cold temp thing to deal with!"

          I guess being a paratrooper you never got much time for good sex then. Unless you good ole boys packed the vaseline for those "quiet" nights.
    • by CRC'99 (96526)
      If you read the article, you see that there's not an engine in the thing right now.

      You just need to use your own bi-carb soda and vinegar solution. The forums are coming soon where you can discuss optimal thrust ratios.
    • by nmb3000 (741169)
      If you read the article, you see that there's not an engine in the thing right now.

      You are correct, it appears to be just a more technical (and perhaps better) form of the "Flying Squirrel" suit [youtube.com]. I'm not sure how that suit would work in high-altitude drops or how it compares for surface area. Also, keeping your arms and legs spread like that over a long fall is probably pretty tiring, but being able to pull them in and drop faster might be useful.

      Looks fun in any case.
    • It might be with the addition of a rocket:

      Skywalker Jets, has devised a rocket pack that weighs about 90 pounds and can propel a 200 pound pilot around the air for what is likely the most invigorating [last] 5 minutes of their life.

      The strong part above is mine. Nothing's perfect.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by jeti (105266)
      However, it's worth to follow the link to Yves Rossy [jet-man.com].
      He has a working civilian version with engines strong enough for ascending.
    • Re: (Score:1, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward
      This is the real deal:
      http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=jet-man&search=Search [youtube.com]

      This is more "conventional":
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2gcurwcPs3U [youtube.com]

      Other people playing in a boring way:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=THEcWrznicY [youtube.com]

      And this is just for fun, with model rockets:
      http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0mjUZEsduIE [youtube.com]
    • Thank you. *clicks Back*
    • Well, there is this Finn [youtube.com] with a Wingsuit and rocket boots. =) Obvious the very limited amount of fuel he had didn't make it very spectacular, I suppose. (vs. e.g. Jet-Man)
  • Daedalus (Score:1, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward
    When will they learn.

  • by Hamsterdan (815291) on Friday September 14, 2007 @09:27PM (#20611893)
    Well, at least GI Joe and Cobra had them :)
  • by kaan (88626) on Friday September 14, 2007 @09:27PM (#20611903)
    ... an advanced, high-tech way to die. Seriously, a jet-powered vehicle where the frontmost thing is your head? At 135mph?
    • a jet-powered vehicle where the frontmost thing is your head? At 135mph?

      At that speed, I don't think heads first or tail first matters.

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by TechForensics (944258)
      This is very old news. Almost fifty years ago rigid wing assemblies, or "Batwings" as they were called, were banned in the skydiving community as simply too dangerous. Let's hope the present inventors (or maybe they are better called engineers) can do better.
    • by nobuddy (952985)
      At 135MPH, you can go feet first and you will still shater your melon when you hit something. The only difference is you get to feel everything else break up to that point. I elect head first, thank you.
  • by ScrewMaster (602015) on Friday September 14, 2007 @09:33PM (#20611947)
    There's got to be a good strap-on joke in here somewhere but I'm too many beers down to come up with it.
    • by Tesla15 (834968)
      A couple more and something is bound to come up :)
      • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

        by YrWrstNtmr (564987)
        A couple more, and it probably can't come up.
        • by ookabooka (731013)
          All you have to do is strap this thing on, get it up, glide a little bit (perhaps back and forth (in the sky)) and then at the end, deploy the parachute

          I had a few as well, but at least I tried.
          • by ookabooka (731013)
            And 2 seconds after I submitted I realized "In the Sky" sounds a lot like "In this guy". . .damn I missed the opportunity to make that a really great pun. . oh well, serves me right for drinking on a Friday night.

            P.S. Does anyone else other than coders use nested parenthesis in writing something in English?
            • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

              by Em Adespoton (792954)

              P.S. Does anyone else other than coders use nested parenthesis in writing something in English?

              Well, the official way to do it (when you do it in English [writing, that is])is to alternate curved and square parentheses. This is similar to using nested quotes (alternating double and single quotes) where the rule tends to match in programming languages. Personally, I think that this would be useful in programming languages as well, but I don't recall seeing any that do it.

    • by samwh (921444)
      German videos with Strapons? Last time I watched one of those I got a visit from the FBI's Partyvan .
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by E++99 (880734)
      My German may be a bit rusty, but I think they were saying something about a Master Race and a new air invasion of Britain.
  • Now I'll finally know what it's like to be Starscream!
  • Safety..? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by suv4x4 (956391) on Friday September 14, 2007 @09:55PM (#20612105)
    There's a reason why the more serious engineers of personal flying vehicles claim it's not possible to make it safe without making it fully automatic (computerized).

    It's not in the capability of an average man to pilot his own personal plane, be it just pair of wings on his back, unless a computer does 99.9% of the job. And if it does it, then it better be coordinated centrally with all other flying personal jets in the area. Automatically again.

    If they ever release this thing with jet engines, they'll probably make you sign tons of legalese that they're not responsible if you die within one minute of flight, not to mention you'll not be allowed to fly above, or near, urban areas.
    • Re:Safety..? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by (H)elix1 (231155) * <slashdot.helix@nOSPaM.gmail.com> on Friday September 14, 2007 @11:18PM (#20612611) Homepage Journal

      It's not in the capability of an average man to pilot his own personal plane, be it just pair of wings on his back, unless a computer does 99.9% of the job. And if it does it, then it better be coordinated centrally with all other flying personal jets in the area.


      I suspect you over estimate how hard it is to learn to fly. I flew solo after 10 hours of instruction, and that was with some pucker factor built in. Learning to crash (gracefully) and navigate ate up another 30 hours, and another 4 hours practicing for the test. The hardest part might just be the medical. (grin) Once you get past remembering to put the gear down, jet engine is not much harder than a constant speed prop.

      As for signing stuff... depends on how they license this thing. They sell it as under 'sport aircraft' regs, it takes even less training to fly less than even experimental. Usually the gating factor is getting someone willing to insure you.
    • There are dozens, if not hundreds, of cases where a pilot has been medically incapacitated and a passenger has, with radio instruction, managed to land the plane. *Flying* a plane is not hard. They mostly fly themselves. It's the organizational and emergency stuff -- what to do when the engine catches on fire or you fly into a cloud or you get lost, how to talk on the radio, how to navigate, how to calculate whether the plane's too heavy to take off from a short runway at high altitude on a hot day, and
  • by Clockwork Apple (64497) on Friday September 14, 2007 @09:59PM (#20612147) Homepage
    Maybe they should ask Yves Rossy how he did it... a year or so ago.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHYXrqoS08o [youtube.com]

    • by srmalloy (263556)
      Thank you for digging that up; I knew I'd seen video of a similar device a while back, but couldn't remember where I'd seen it.

      From the picture in TFA, though, I remember seeing a diagram of an almost identical strap-on wing about two years ago (which equals eternity in Net time) on one of the "what's happening in defense research" websites; apparently they finally got enough of the bugs out of the design to be putting people up in the air with them. The original plans for the device, though, were to have i
      • by 9Nails (634052)
        I must have missed the latest Episode of 007, because I'm certain that he would have a device just like this!

        Personally, I'd really like to see something like this with ground take-off capable and 3+ hr endurance. But I can see this as a success story and not just a cool blip on the radar like hover scooters or Segway's.
        • by srmalloy (263556)
          Given the way people tend to zoom around on recreational vehicles like ATVs and the like, if a consumer product like that were available, I'd expect to see it become more of a dark, smokey blotch on the ground after users showboat with it and lose control. (e.g., the last words of a redneck pilot: "Hey, y'all, watch this!")
    • (I should check Slashdot daily as I used to do...)

      More videos and photos on M. Rossy's website [jet-man.com] (and a new sponsor...)

      I like M. Rossy's concept a lot. Besides the folding mechanism, the wing is very simple - no control surfaces, just a trim to adjust the angle of attack when the jets are on (and of course the throttle). All control (roll, pitch, jaw) is done through traditional skydiving techniques. That, and having to unfold the wing after the jump, requires a very experienced skydiver tho...

      I bet his wing
  • Upon further inspection (understand: I RTFA), this has got to be a joke.

    This is the supposed design of the Gryphon [networkworld.com].

    Apart from making the man "wearing" it look like a douchebag (what is this, an airplane Halloween costume?), it has the extra benefit putting your head right on front, so you can enjoy the potential impact at its full force.

    This better be some hell of a helmet he has.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by deft (253558)
      As opposed to your design where the head is.... facing backwards?

      thats where it has to go, and sorry, but if theres an impact, it doesnt matter WHERE the head is, it will shortly be smashed on the pavement. This system is designed to land by parachute, wings on back.

      • by suv4x4 (956391)
        As opposed to your design where the head is.... facing backwards?

        As opposed to a full design where you have an ejectable seat and other safety measures built in.

        Let's see what's the road equivalent of this plane: a motorcycle. No airbag, belt, ability to absorb chock as a full blown automobile can. Hence you're in a much bigger risk being in an accident with motorcycle than a car (statistically, and logically).

        And this is without putting your head right on front of the bike. This thing looks laughable. But
        • "As opposed to a full design where you have an ejectable seat and other safety measures built in."

          I think you are failing to realize that when the wings are ON YOUR BACK there is NOTHING TO EJECT FROM! You just need to unclip from the wings and you're fine... they will fly away. They you pull your chute.'

          But lets examine your design enhancements:

          Yeah, so you'd be sitting in a seat...good idea. Nice and confy. maybe be goos for a few gauges too.

          maybe put the wings on the seat too... hmm, yes. and the fuel in
          • by suv4x4 (956391)
            I think you are failing to realize that when the wings are ON YOUR BACK there is NOTHING TO EJECT FROM!

            I think you're failing to understand that for this thing to be usable, you need engines on it. And if the engines catch fire, or go otherwise wrong, the parachute will be useless if it's embedded right next to the engines.

            Good thing you're not making planes I guess.
            • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

              by Anonymous Coward
              This craft is not a plane; it is much much closer to powered hang glider. Either way, a crash is likely to be fatal regardless the location of the head of the operator. Surviving a catastrophic failure in a powered hang glider will amount to your ability to release and utilize a parachute.

              I get the distinct feeling that you are not a member of the aerospace community in any way shape or form. You simply cannot get the safety you want in such a small air vehicle. There is a reason that every aspect in th
              • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

                by lessthan (977374)
                Of course, the actual pertinent question is "Would a person willing to strap that thing on their back going to be concerned about safety?" I am going to go out on a limb and say no. So why argue about how safe it is?
            • I think the point with this thing is that you don't have to eject; you release the wings (with fuel and jets) from your pack, and descend with the parachute as usual.

              The one thing I'm wary about is that the device will contain both jet fuel and oxygen, both in close quarters to your body. In the time it would take for the oxygen tank to explode in an equipment malfunction, you likely wouldn't have time to release the jets from the pack. At least with a jet there's a bit of shielding.
    • by NonSequor (230139)
      And I thought people riding on Segways looked ridiculous.
  • ...have enough trouble negotiating the 2 dimensions they deal with now. I can just see 'cell phone douchebag' flying all over the place without even painted lines to tell him where to go.
    • by rah1420 (234198)
      I can just see 'cell phone douchebag' flying all over the place without even painted lines to tell him where to go.

      And you really think that the painted lines help the cell phone douchebags?

      Trust me, I'd much prefer to have three dimensions. If I change my flight level then there's practically zero chance of intersecting with idiots at another flight level. Remember "The Wrath of Khan." [wikipedia.org]
    • by mennucc1 (568756)

      .Dumb assed drivers.....?.
      if they use this gizmo, then Darwin will get us rid of them in one generation time
  • wasn't there some strap-on wing and w/e developed for us special forces? i seem to recall reading about it on slashdot sometime in the past.
    • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

      by Jaxoreth (208176)

      wasn't there some strap-on wing and w/e developed for us special forces?

      You're thinking of an actual rocketpack prototype that was invented by Howard Hughes in 1938 and stolen by the Nazis for the purpose of creating a flying army, though it was accidentally destroyed soon after they acquired it. The FBI managed to keep the whole thing secret until about 1991, when news of the incident became public [wikipedia.org].

  • How is this practical? I mean, sure I hate the 15 minute drive to work, but it's not worth my life and the money to shave a few minutes off of that.
  • After all, the old pilot joke that goes:

    Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing. Any landing where the plane can be used again is a *great* landing


    since they're now one and the same...

    *grin*
  • "Researchers say the final version of the flying wing will contain an electronic system that will take care of some of the steering for the pilot which today can be a little tricky, researchers say."

    IANAP, but I figure the landings are probably the trickiest, followed by the take-offs. But there's also the issue of avoiding a bunch of other idiots not looking where they're flying while talking on their cell phones that kind has me concerned. Is it going to have radar and a computer that can avoid smashing
  • I actually just wrote a long post on my website about jetpacks, the past and the possible future of "backpack flying" http://depletedcranium.com/?p=103 [depletedcranium.com]

    Not to like... go around spamming my own site, but it actually pertains to this. There are issues with the "Winged" packs, which have limited them to skydiving type use.
  • will keep this from ever becoming a reality for the common man.

    That along with the number of Mid-flight deaths...but they say it isn't the fall that kills you, but the sudden stop at the end of the fall.
    • GOOD!

      I don't want the Common Man to have these.....Considering that the Common Man has enough trouble driving a car to begin with.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Charcharodon (611187)
      Actually something like this is already regulated, but not in the way you think. There probably will be absolutley no requirements to get one other than a credit card or cash, since it's so small. The only restrictions will be where you fly it (airspace restriction) Whether it's a Rocketeer outfit or some yahoo with a lawnchair, 2 dozen helium ballons, and a BB-gun doesn't matter because the FAA could care less as long is it doesn't get in the way of regular aircraft.

      You can go out right now and get th

      • by huckda (398277)
        because it is 'powered flight'...rather than a derigible(sp)...although it may achieve 'ultra-light' status and thus be less restricted.
        • Actually Derigibles actually fall under powered flight, though powered flight is not actually a catagory used by the FAA. You are thinking of baloons. You have Fixed wing, rotary wing, lighter than air, and powered lift as catagories of aircraft.

          Here are a basic list on restrictions for ultralight operation.

          Used only for sport and recreation
          Daylight operations only
          No operations over congested areas
          Used by a single occupant
          Maximum five gallons of fuel
          Yield right-of-way to all other aircraft
          O

  • that should be worn in front of a fast food restaurant when passing out coupons.
  • 'Researchers say the final version of the flying wing will contain an electronic system that will take care of some of the steering for the pilot which today can be a little tricky, researchers say.

    Researchers say!
  • http://www.networkworld.com/graphics/2007/gryphondude.jpg [networkworld.com]
    Wondering this guy has big orange beak attached to the front to his helmet and white parachute as his paunch. Would be sexy ;), no? Glad to meet you Mr. Tux.
  • The company also plans to add small jets to the wing making it a true jetpack in the future.

    Great! Now I will have something to spend all those Pepsi Points on.

  • Another jet pack (Score:2, Interesting)

    by biomass (13779)
    A nice video demonstration of an
    awesome jet pack [youtube.com]
  • Men on fire, flying through the air. Live leak is going to have a never ending supply of video content for free if this ever comes to market (doubt it).
  • No, James Bond (Pierce Brosnan and Halle Berry) used one in Die Another Day...Towards the ground they eject themselves from the plane and parachute down...Hope its cheap then or my tax dollars are being wasted on James.

    Karem

  • ... demonstrated a form of 'strap-on jet wing' that lets a user truly fly through the air.
    ...as opposed to what? Untruly flying through the air?
  • If they get Bill Dube to do a static test burn [slashdot.org], don't get in front of him!

  • I imagine a world where the only sound you hear is Doppler shifted screams followed by a lot of destruction. I'm going to start a roofing company.

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