'Iron Man' pilots race in jet suits against backdrop of Dubai skyscrapers

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Editor : Koray Erdoğan
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Dubai hosts the world's first jet suit race on Feb.28, with competitors speeding along a route with the skyscrapers of Dubai Marina looming behind them, controlling jet engines in their hands and on their backs

'Iron Man' pilots race in jet suits against backdrop of Dubai skyscrapers

Dubai hosted the world's first jet suit race on Feb. 28.

In the races, pilots donned 1,500-horsepower jet suits that are more powerful than most luxury sports cars and use the same fuel used by Dubai-based long-haul airline Emirates' Airbus A380s and Boeing 777s.

If the images from the races in Dubai in the United Arab Emirates, known for being home to the world's tallest building and other wonders, sound like Iron Man, the Marvel comic book character made internationally famous by actor Robert Downey Jr., the pilots say that's exactly what they were.

"The closest analogy might be the dream of flying... and then go wherever your mind takes you," said Richard Browning, founder and chief test pilot of Gravity Industries, which organized the race with Dubai. "And yes, the world of Marvel superheroes and DC Comics have created this dream book with CGI, and I think we're the closest we've come to making it a reality."

Gravity previously gained worldwide attention a few years ago when it dressed a British Royal Marine in one of its jet suits as he landed on a ship at sea.

Since then, they have traveled widely in the suits and pursued other military applications for them, before the idea of a competition with the Dubai Sports Council came up.

Gravity says the jet suit can currently reach speeds of 80 miles per hour (128 kph). The pilots increased their speed during the competition, and two pilots even crashed into each other, but remained in the air as the crowd watched in amazement.

Dubai, known for its beaches, bars and souks, has long been affected by flight, especially as it is home to the world's busiest airport for international travel.

The city has also been pursuing the idea of flying taxis for years.

But it is not without risks. As part of a separate venture, one of Dubai's original "Jetmen," Vincent Reffet, died in a training accident in 2020 after once gaining fame flying alongside Emirates' double-decker A380.

Kalfon, who won the race and lifted a golden jet turbine, admitted to being nervous before his flights, but described the jet suit as safe and easy to use.

Source: Newsroom & AP

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