If one person strapping on a jet suit and flying around like a superhero isn’t exciting enough for you: good news! You’ll soon have the opportunity to watch a group of eight such daredevils compete in the world’s first jet suit race.
The background: In 2017, British inventor Richard Browning founded Gravity Industries to design and build a jet suit that allows its wearer to fly through the air like Iron Man under the power of its five mini jet engines.
Since then, Gravity has demoed the jet suit during military warfare exercises, tested its potential to help medics with search and rescue missions, and started offering flight “experiences” to regular folks willing to pay $3,500 to fly (while on a safety tether).
What’s new? Gravity has now partnered with government officials in Dubai to launch the world’s first jet suit race. It will take place on February 28, 2024, during the annual Dubai Boat Show and will include contestants from different countries, including the United Arab Emirates.
“[T]his race will be a new and unique addition to the list of such showcases not only in Dubai but globally as well,” said Saeed Hareb, secretary general of the Dubai Sports Council. “It will add another unforgettable event to the local sports calendar and for our diverse audience.”
The details: The jet suit race will take place over the water, and according to Browning, the flight path will include “challenges for the competitors that require maneuverability, accuracy, and flight speed.”
The eight competitors will wear Gravity jet suits that have been modified to include extra protection against drowning, and the plan is to cut the field down to the top four contestants and then have them compete for a spot on the podium.
It’s not clear whether the racers will be on the course simultaneously — with all the excitement of head-to-head competition, and potential danger of collisions — or if they’ll each get a crack at it solo and move on to the next round based on their time. It’s also not clear what they’re competing for — if there’s a prize other than glory, it hasn’t been announced.
Looking ahead: If you aren’t going to be in Dubai in February, don’t fret — according to Hareb, “millions of viewers” will be able to watch the jet suit race via TV and other media platforms, though they’ve yet to announce exactly where they plan to stream the event.
As for Gravity, it’s goal seems to be to make these races a regular thing, with events taking place at “iconic waterfront locations around the world,” so even if you can’t see this first race in person, you may have a chance to catch one live in the future.
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