Hi-Flying Jet Suits | God's World News

High-Flying Jet Suits

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    Jet suit pilots race in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, on February 28, 2024. (AP/Jon Gambrell)
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    The pilots control jet engines on their hands and backs. (AP/Jon Gambrell)
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    Racers zip along a route with the skyscrapers of Dubai behind them. (AP/Jon Gambrell)
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    Richard Browning of Gravity Industries races in one of his firm’s jet suits. (AP/Jon Gambrell)
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    Jet suit pilot Issa Kalfon, center, waves his trophy after winning the race. (AP/Jon Gambrell)
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Seven pilots line up on a runway. Turbojet engines rumble and roar. But these aviators aren’t flying planes. They are the aircraft. Dubai, United Arab Emirates, hosted what it calls the first-ever jet suit race.

Jet suit pilots wear high-tech jumpsuits. The flashy attire looks a lot like movie or comic book character costumes. Mounted on the pilots’ forearms and backs are turbine engines. These produce more thrust than most luxury sports cars—1,500 horsepower—and use the same kind of fuel as a Boeing 777.

Richard Browning, founder and chief test pilot for Gravity Industries, began testing the limits of human flight with a single gas turbine strapped to his arm. One engine became two, then four—plus a “Tupperware box” on his back to hold electronics.

According to Browning, tests included lots of falling over. After all, God sets Earth’s limits (Psalm 74:17) including time, seasons, space—and gravity. Early test videos show Browning as he bounced, spun, and stumbled across fields and parking lots.

In the end, Gravity’s suits became part flight dream, part superhero. “We’ve got the closest I think anybody’s ever got to delivering that for real,” Browning says.

Once jet suits became workable, Browning and others began dreaming about jet-suited people racing each other. Adventure-crazed Dubai, with its stomach-dropping zipline attractions, safari rides, deep-sea diving, and skyscraper edge walking (outside, in a harness, along the rim!) seemed the perfect choice for a flying contest.

Organizers picked a Dubai marina to allow for higher speeds—and safety—since the water lets pilots skim along at low altitudes.

Racers jumped and leaned forward for a helicopter-like take-off. They zipped along the watery course at speeds up to 80 miles per hour. Dubai’s famously tall skyscrapers served as backdrop.

“It’s kind of like astronauts flying around in space,” says spectator Jennifer Ross.

Pilot Issa Kalfon won the inaugural race—and a golden jet turbine trophy. He describes the jet suit as safe and easy to handle. He admits being nervous before flights. But then “the flag drops,” Kalfon says. “And it’s just—you absolutely go for it.”

The competition featured one crash. Emirati pilot Ahmed al-Shehhi trained for just 12 days before racing. He smashed feet first into the water but popped up quickly and gave a thumbs-up to rescuers.

Gravity’s company mantra is, “We dared to ask ‘What if?’” Jet suit crashes aren’t surprising. But as Browning says, “Falling over . . . is definitely the best way to learn.”

Why? Inventions that push the limits of human ability can provide exciting opportunities—as long as we remember that God ultimately controls those limits!

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