Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, the crown prince of Dubai, doesn’t want to brag — or maybe he does — but on Monday he posted a video of Dubai extreme sporting outfit X-Dubai showing off a wingsuit that allowed a man to take off from a pier, fly across a stretch of the Arabian Gulf, then shoot up 600 feet into the air, perform a roll and a loop, and parachute down to Earth. The jetpack outfit, flown by Jetman pilot Vince Reffet, reminded a lot of people of Marvel’s Iron Man, minus the parachute landing.
The big breakthrough in this Feb. 14 test flight was taking off from the ground, not leaping from a helicopter or other raised platform, and ditching the parachute landing is next, Reffet said in a statement. “One of the next objectives is to land back on the ground after a flight at altitude, without needing to open a parachute. It’s being worked on.” The Marvel-like action starts at the 2:30 mark.
The “Mission: Human Flight” project is supported by Expo 2020 Dubai, the first world expo held in the Middle East, Africa, or South Asia. The carbon-fiber wingsuit, designed by Swiss aviation expert Yves Rossy and powered by four small jet engines, can travel at 160 mph and has a range of 34 miles, Esquire reports. It isn’t for the fainthearted or the amateur, at least not yet: Reffet took his Iron Man suit on at least 50 preparatory flights, and practiced taking off and landing under controlled conditions more than 100 times. Much, we imagine, like Tony Stark would have done.