Have you ever thought you’d see a jet-suit fly in real life? I haven’t and certainly not in the Lake District.
Helvellyn is the third highest peak in the Lake District in the UK. Every year, millions of people flock to the region to climb its mountains. But what if something goes wrong?
The Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) is a charity that provides amazing helicopter rescue, but when the weather gets tough a helicopter can’t always make the trip.
Richard Browning of Gravity Industries, a British aerospace innovation company, has the solution.
Jet suits are the fastest way to reach people in need
After just six days of training, Jamie Walsh, a GNAAS paramedic, used one of Gravity’s Jet suits to fly. Helvellyn For the very first time.
The journey, which would normally take around 1 hour 20 minutes on foot, has been reduced to just 3 minutes and 30 seconds via a jet suit.
“If you’re a cardiac patient or someone who really needs intensive care, 1 hour 20 minutes is often too long for really important cases,” says Richard Browning, founder and chief test pilot at Gravity Industries.
“We can get a trained professional to the side of a victim very quickly in very difficult weather or very difficult physical terrain in a way that often [rescuers] on foot, or a vehicle or a helicopter cannot do.
This is a huge step for search and rescue and overall it didn’t take Gravity Industries very long.
“In 2016, I hatched this unusual vision of ‘Could you reimagine how human beings could fly?'” says Richard.
How does a jet suit work?
Gravity’s 1000 Horsepower jet suits working with thrusters on the pilot’s back and two small jet engines on each arm forming a stable form of tripod power.
According to Richard, after several years of development, the suits no longer require great upper body strength. He likens the feeling of using one to leaning on a table with your arms outstretched.
So far, over 500 people of different sizes and physical conditions have all learned to fly the jet suits. Some have even mastered it in just one day.
Jet suits can be powered by diesel, jet fuel, biodiesel or biofuel.
What’s next for jet suit travel?
Gravity Industries has already developed an electric Jet Suit. Currently there is no suitable battery technology and therefore the suit is twice the weight of the standard version and therefore does not perform as well. But as soon as the batteries can get small enough, Richard says he has a suit ready to go.
Richard also plans to test the suits in a variety of other rescue scenarios, including avalanches.
People caught in avalanches often die of suffocation because they are trapped under the snow. Although there is an emergency beacon system in place, it is difficult to get a rescue team directly above them to start digging them up quickly.
“I have a very strong hunch that we can get right over this victim and even use thrust to blow off a lot of the snow before digging in,” says Richard.
“So we have to prove it, but I strongly suspect that we can really help in that area as well.”
Watch the video above to see this amazing jet suit in action.