It took man around 2.6 million years to evolve from mastering Stone Age tools to the era of powered flight. A few short decades later, we made it to the moon. Now, it seems the next great leap for humankind is the age of personal aircraft. Jetman Dubai is leading the charge with its compact, jet-powered Jetwing.
By the numbers, the Jetwing personal aircraft is impressive. Thanks to four miniature turbine engines and an ultra-lightweight carbon fiber wing, it’s capable of speeds over 250 miles per hour. It also boasts a 31-mile range and a maximum altitude of more than 20,000 feet. The jet pack is ground-controlled and capable of hovering at a standstill and even performing loops and aerial acrobatics. The pilot’s sky-high antics can all be recorded via multiple onboard 4K action cameras.
The history of Jetman Dubai dates back to 2013 when an early version of its Jetwing flew a successful formation flight with an acrobatic plane. Fast-forward two years and the company completed a manned flight alongside an Emirates A380 jumbo jet over Dubai. These first proof-of-concept flights were all launched from a moving aircraft or an elevated platform, however. Now, the company is again in the news thanks to a record-setting flight by professional skydiver Vince Reffet. In a world-first, the Jetwing pilot launched to more than 3,000 feet in under 30 seconds from a standstill on the ground. He topped out at nearly 6,000 feet before pulling his safety parachute.
Of course, the Jetwing isn’t the only one-man aircraft in development. Last August, Airspeeder announced the debut of flying car races as early as this year. A few months before that, we reported on JetPack Aviation’s Speeder concept, a sci-fi-inspired personal hoverbike touting performance numbers similar to Jetwing. In 2018, London’s Selfridges department store even promoted the sale of the ultra-limited-edition, Iron-Man-style Gravity Jetpack — with more horsepower than a Lamborghini Aventador — for the low, low price of just $440,000 (helmet and flying lessons included).
Developers at Jetman Dubai have their sights set on autonomous human flight for the masses. Unfortunately, the company has no concrete plans to put the Jetwing into production — for now. Considering most humans have yet to master travel in two dimensions, that’s probably for the best.