In what would be a close rendition of Marvel character Tony Stark powering his high-tech armored suit to transform into Iron Man and soaring away in the sky above tall skyscrapers, a renowned Austrian was spotted wearing not the same fictional suit but a wing-suit while drifting off above mountain peaks.
Professional skydiver and BASE jumper, Peter Salzmann, who also bides his time being a stuntman, a Sports Scientist, a paragliding instructor, and a Tandempilot, is often seen wearing a wingsuit to glide alongside mountains and hovering over trees before finally opening his parachute to land back on earth, which is exactly what he lives for.
However, in his chase of achieving that for a prolonged period of time while going sailing even faster in the air, Salzmann collaborated with German Automobile juggernauts BMW, to achieve his dream for which the company equipped him with an electric suit created just for that purpose.
According to Stef Schrader, writing for The Drive – “Salzmann collaborated with BMW i and BMW’s Designworks agency to make an electric-powered impeller that would allow him to fly even longer than any wingsuit-wearing base jumper has ever gone.”
Wingsuit Base Jumping is a popular form of sport under which the participant flies through the air using a wingsuit which adds surface area to the person, enabling them to have a significant increase in lift.
According to Electrek, unlike regular wingsuits that enable a base jumper to attain speeds of around 62 mph (100 km/h), the suit which is equipped by Salzmann offers him the power to achieve speeds of 186 mph (300 km/h).
“The innovative drive module and the likewise entirely newly designed wingsuit were developed in a cooperation between BMW i, Designworks and the professional wingsuit pilot Peter Salzmann from Austria,” said the BMW Group in a media statement.
In order for Salzmann to carry out his stunt, the electric motor allows the impeller pack to be close to his body without being too noisy or dirty.
“The twin 5-inch-wide carbon-fiber impellers took three years to develop after Salzmann and one of his base jumping mentors thought of an extra motor as a means to prolong a jump,”
Each impeller spins at roughly 25,000 rpm and has an output of 15 kilowatts. The pack is powered by a 50-volt lithium battery and the whole pack weighs roughly 26 lbs. The structure of the pack is made of aluminum and carbon fiber to keep it as light and comfortable as possible in flight,” says Schrader.
Before carrying out the flight, several pack prototypes were tested in wind tunnels, before it was realized that suit needed to have additional air inlets for it to feed enough air into the impeller.
Earlier, the plan involved Salzmann jumping over a set of three skyscrapers in South Korea, while drifting down to the height of the lower skyscrapers before soaring above the tallest of the three using the impellers, however, Salzmann was forced to carry the test in Austria itself due to the Corona Virus pandemic.
But all the hard work paid off, with BMW releasing a spectacular video in which Salzmann can be seen being dropped off a helicopter at 3,000 meters (9,800 feet) over the set of three mountains in Australia called the Three Brothers.
According to a statement released by the BMW Group,
“The spectacular film, which will be seen for the first time in the run-up to the #NEXTGen 2020, shows impressively how BMW eDrive technology is able to make a lasting change to the individual mobility experience – not only on the road.”
Salzmann is joined by two other conventional wingsuit operators in the video. Loukia Papadopoulos, writing for Interesting Engineering, says – “All three head for a mountain peak but the other wingsuit operators are forced to fly around it,”
Salzmann, on the other hand, accelerates and clears the summit. This is quite an impressive feat that needs to be seen to be believed.”