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Jetpacks are not new - Yves 'Jetman' Rossy and many other daredevils have been using them for years. However, even they are going to be a little envious of these new wings that allow the wearer to soar into the skies from the ground, instead of having to be launched from 26,000 feet above.
Dubbed Skyflash the wings, which were inspired by the magnificent condor's 46-53 inch long wingspan, is an ambitious project undertaken by Germany's Fritz Unger. The youngster, who earned his aviation license at the age of 14, says that while flying inside a plane was great, he had always dreamt of flying like a bird - Completely unencumbered. Since there was nothing available on the market, he and a few like-minded friends decided to build it themselves.
The team who has been working on the project for the last five years have so far, built three prototypes - Two concept models of varying sizes and recently this full-size working model constructed from aviation plywood and covered with shrink-wrap plastic (to keep costs low). If this final version which is undergoing ground tests works as hoped, the team plans to embark on building the real wings. Skyflash 1 will be made from glass-fiber and fitted with more powerful engines so that it can fly faster and longer.
Designed to be worn like a backpack, the wings that measure 11.15 feet across, is made of three units that separate during take off and then reunite, as soon as the flyer is airborne. The separation helps provide greater surface area during lift off, while bringing them back together during the flight, helps increase speed and stability.
Powered by two micro-turbine jet engines cleverly fitted in the center that are fueled by two gas tanks placed on the sides, the wing can be steered with the help of a single hand throttle and the pilot shifting his/her body weight. For example, to turn the pilot stretches out an arm, while to climb, he bends his knees. The maximum weight that this 25 kg contraption can lift off with is about 130 kg, which while not much, is a great start.
As for how a pilot achieves a smooth landing? The inventors are a little coy about that, saying that it's pretty much the same as how one takes off - Maybe those are the kinks they are still trying to work through. Hopefully, they will be able to succeed in doing something that humans have been struggling to achieve ever since Icarus tried to escape from Crete, with feather wings!
Resources: Gizmag.com, Dailymail.co.uk