Fly Like A (Jet-powered) Bird

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Just in time for summer, it's Batman meets James Bond ... not at the movies, but up in the skies. A German company, ESG, introduced its prototype of a jet-powered wing that will enable parachutists to fly over 100 miles from the airplane to a landing site. Designed for the military, the system enables paratroopers with a new degree of versatility. The wing is now being tested sans jet engines, but still has a glide distance of about 25 miles with jumps from 32,000 feet. It also enables jumpers to operate at night and in bad weather, using a stabilization system to deal with adverse wind conditions, ESG said. And the next version of the system will have even more capability. The jet-equipped wing, which will weigh about 66 pounds, will have a cargo compartment. The jumper would have to be supplied with oxygen and thermal clothing. Of course, no new gizmo is without predecessors. Swiss pilot Yves Rossy jumped with a similar contraption in 2004, and flew horizontally for over four minutes at about 100 knots, using small jet packs for power.