Researchers flash personal aircraft, future jetpack

Flying dude
This one is straight out of a James Bond movie or Batman script.

German researchers this week showed off their Gryphon personal strap-on jet wing that lets the pilot scream through the air at about 135MPH. The Gryphon features a six-foot wing and hand-held rotary controls for the rudder. The system includes 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.To land the wing today, the pilot separates the device from the backpack and opens the parachute contained inside. The wing remains attached to the pilot by a cord and falls to the ground a few feet below him, complete with the baggage stored inside - the current capacity is 44 lbs. The system is being touted as a faster and stealthier alternative to high altitude parachutes, known as HALOs currently in use by the military. While the Gryphon pilot moves through the air much faster than someone using a regular parachute, he can stay in the air much longer if need be, because there is no period of free fall, researchers say.

The ideal application for the Gryphon could be its use by Special Forces units to jump from a great heights and then glide through the air to a site of intervention many miles away. Parachutists could get into areas that are difficult to reach without their transport planes having to fly into a danger zone. A stealthy Gryphon insertion followed by a massive air assault might be an option where there was a target which might move away on short notice, or if there were hostages who might be killed at any sign of a rescue mission, researchers say.

Researchers say the Gryphon is aimed at the military and could also become an extreme sport system. No timetable for either application was announced however. The Gryphon is currently under development by German company ESG Elektroniksystem.

Such personal jetpacks have been in the works in the past. A Swiss airline pilot named Yves Rossy last year developed a working jetpack. Actually, it's a pair of rigid carbon fiber wings strapped to his back, with two small kerosene-powered jet engines on each wing - essentially a small jet airplane using the pilot's body as the fuselage.According to Engadget, Rick Herron, creator of 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 5 minutes of their life.

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