I have always looked with fascination to those daredevils in a wingsuit jumping off a mountain and speeding through the air like rockets. It marvels the precision they have in predicting the glide and the knowledge they can only go downward.
Now it looks like they may get the option to go upwards, using electric impellers to power their flights. The impellers, sort of turbines rotating at 25,000 rpm, generates a thrust of about 20hp (15kW) for 5 minutes. It does not seem a lot of power but it turns the downwards travel (a wingsuit loses one vertical meter for every three meters of horizontal flight) into an horizontal one (it can even support some altitude gain) increasing, at the same time, the speed from 100 km/h to over 300 km/h.
The propulsion system has been designed by BMW Designworks studio and tested in the BMW wind tunnel. The first approach was to design a backpack but after a few simulations it turned out that placing the impellers under the wingsuit would make them more effective and controllable.
The flight does not get any easier, actually it requires much more strength because of the higher speed. The daredevil has a switch for activating the impellers and can control their individual power.
It really looks fantastic (watch the clip) but it doesn’t get me any nearer to this kind of sport!