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The World's First Electric Wingsuit - world's first electric wingsuit.JPG (0/1)

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Old November 9th 20, 09:07 PM posted to rec.aviation.piloting
Larry Dighera
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Default The World's First Electric Wingsuit - world's first electric wingsuit.JPG (0/1)


Dawn of a new extreme sport: The world's first electric wingsuit
By Loz Blain

November 08, 2020

Austria's Peter Salzmann powers through the air in his 300-km/h,
twin-impeller electric wingsuitBMW

Wingsuit flying certainly captured folks' attention when it first hit
the mainstream around the turn of the millennium, sparking a wave of
GoPro and Red Bull videos. Human flight had never been so personal or
so physical as these intrepid maniacs half-fell, half glided through
rocky gaps and mountain passes like turbocharged flying squirrels.

The name of the game quickly became to see how close you could fly to
things without hitting them, in search of the ultimate rush and the
biggest view counts. But these devices were limited in that your only
source of acceleration was gravity itself, and your flight profile
could only ever take you downward.

No longer. Stuntman Peter Salzmann had been thinking for years about
how to add some sustainable propulsion and climbing ability to the
wingsuit experience, and he hooked up with creative consultants at
BMW's Designworks studio to create a chest-mounted set of electric
impellers and a wingsuit that would work with them.

At first, he wanted to mount the props in a backpack arrangement, in
longer tubes capable of generating more thrust. But the most
advantageous airflow would be in front of him, and he found the
initial design too heavy. So a chest mounted system it was, with two
5-inch (13-cm), 25,000 rpm impellers in a relatively compact but still
pretty chunky unit that has a bit of a submarine kind of look to it.

The wingsuit was designed to incorporate air inlets for the propulsion
system. There's an on/off switch, a two-finger throttle and a kind of
steering facility, as well as a cutoff switch for emergencies.
Otherwise, she's even more of a physical thing to fly than a regular
wingsuit; you need plenty of core and limb strength to fight the wind
and control your motion in the air.

The project was done in partnership with BMW's Designworks studio, as
a promotion for BMW's electric iX3BMW

The props put out a relatively modest combined 15 kW (20 hp) for
around five minutes, but the results are pretty epic; a regular
wingsuit's most horizontal glide ratio drops around a meter for every
three meters traveled horizontally, and speed tops out around 100 km/h
(62 mph), but when Salzmann hits the electric boost, he can hit speeds
over 300 km/h (186 mph), and actually gain altitude to fly upwards
instead of constantly dropping.

After wind tunnel testing, both in BMW's more auto-focused facilities
and in a specialized wingsuiting wind tunnel in Stockholm, and around
30 test jumps, it was time for a public demonstration. The initial
plan was to demonstrate the suit's climbing capability by taking it to
Busan, Korea, and flying over a group of three skyscrapers, in which
the final one was much higher than the first two.

COVID-19 put paid to that aspiration, so Salzmann settled for
something prettier and closer to home, lining up the Del Brüder peaks
in the Hohe Tauern mountain range, part of the Austrian alps. Salzmann
and a pair of buddies kitted out with regular wingsuits went up to
10,000 feet (3,050 m) in a chopper, counted down, and jumped.

The others are there to act as a reference point, and the three hold
formation until Salzmann hits the juice and blasts forward. Where his
friends have to split off and fly around the final mountain peak, the
electric wingsuit allows him to accelerate up and over it.

The electric wingsuit can add 15 kW of electric power to your flight
for up to five minutes, enabling wingsuit pilots to accelerate and
climb for the first timeBMW

It's not going to blow Yves Rossy's skirt up; the Swiss "Jetman" has
four incredibly powerful jet turbine engines on his extraordinary full
carbon jetwing design, which allow him to blast off vertically from
the ground with computer-controlled stabilization, and shoot
vertically upwards like a rocket as well as swooping and soaring like
a 400-km/h (250-mph) eagle.

But jet turbines are insanely expensive, and so noisy that they rattle
windowpanes from miles away. The average wingsuit pilot's chances of
ever flying one are very limited. Salzmann's design, on the other
hand, looks much more promising. The electric wingsuit has had the
full BMW design touch applied to it; it looks very nicely put
together, and, dare we say, much more like a product than a prototype.

Nobody's saying anything about these things being for sale yet, either
now or into the future, but a small electric propulsion unit is not
going to cost jet turbine money, and it's hard to imagine an
adrenaline-fueled wingsuit pilot in the world that wouldn't be
interested in getting that little bit closer to the Icarus dream of
soaring through the sky, rising and gliding at will.

Indeed, the main issue may turn out to be whether a company like BMW
wants its logo on a product that potentially makes its owners go
splat. It's one thing to be making promo videos for world-first
innovations like this, and another altogether to release these tools
into the hands of extreme sportsfolk where the difference between
successful and unsuccessful flights can be so gruesome. Things have
come a long way since the first "wing suit" flight – a brief and
messily fatal leap off the Eiffel tower by Franz Reichelt in 1912 –
but wingsuity types don't seem to be able to get their pulses racing
without cutting things really fine.

Still, I think we can all rest assured that we'll see more of Salzmann
and this device as things develop, and that consumer-grade electric
wingsuits will soon be a thing, and that this public debut is a
significant moment in personal flight and extreme sports. Enjoy the
video below.

The Electrified Wingsuit. Episode 2. | #NEXTGen 2020.
Source: BMW/Peter Salzmann

Loz Blain
Loz has been one of our most versatile contributors since 2007.
Joining the team as a motorcycle specialist, he has since covered
everything from medical technology to aeronautics, music gear and
historical artefacts. Since 2010 he's branched out into photography,
video and audio production.

paul314 NOVEMBER 9, 2020 06:36 AM
One cool thing about electric is the near-instant start and stop. So
five minutes of running time potentially means way more total flight
time. (Some of the small jet turbines can't start at all without
external support.) And every increment in battery capacity goes right
to more flying.

guzmanchinky NOVEMBER 9, 2020 07:53 AM
This is so beyond amazing. I was just in those mountains two summers
ago and I would have loved to have seen this live! But alas wingsuit
flying is a 10 on my (anyone's?) pucker factor (free climbing is an
11), and I never go past a 7 (rock climbing with a rope or jumping out
of a normal airplane with a normal parachute). 9 is base jumping. 8 is
bungee. I'll stick with 7...

bwana4swahili NOVEMBER 9, 2020 11:20 AM
I think "splat" is appropriate!
================================================== ==========


An icy alpine wind blows in his face, but Peter Salzmann smiles anyway
– the moment the Austrian wingsuit pilot has long been looking forward
to is finally here! The helicopter takes him up to a height of 10,000
feet (3,000 m). You can already make out the outline of the Drei
Brüder or “Three Brothers” mountain peaks through the cloud cover. In
a few seconds, Salzmann will fulfill a long-awaited dream – that of
basejumping in a wingsuit that, thanks to an electric motor, will
allow him to fly over the “Three Brothers”. During the approach,
Salzmann goes through all the processes in his mind one last time,
almost meditatively. He closes his eyes, flies the stretch ahead in
his mind’s eye, lightly moving his head, upper body and hands as he
does so. Three years of work, research and testing for this one
moment. He exhales, supports himself briefly on the left and right
sides of the open helicopter door… and jumps.

Flashback: Salzburg, 2017. The idea for this visionary project arises
spontaneously after work one day. “At the time, I was developing suits
for skydiving and basejumping with a friend and basejumping mentor,”
Peter Salzmann explains. “In a relaxed atmosphere one evening after a
day of testing, we threw out lots of ideas about how we could improve
performance. One of them was a supporting motor – and it’s an idea I
just couldn’t shake. I found the idea of being able to jump from my
local mountain wearing the wingsuit and land in my garden

The Austrian has always dreamed of flying. As a small boy he would
jump off anything that raised him above the ground and land on
mattresses or pillows. “Flying is freedom. It’s the ultimate
expression of striving for the unknown and discovering new horizons,”
says Salzmann. As a stuntman, basejumper, flight instructor and
wingsuit pilot, he actually managed to turn flying into his profession
– a full-time occupation that has allowed him to follow a path that he
always saw mapped out for him. “I only want to do things that are
close to my heart,” reports the 33-year-old. “Yet I always knew there
was more.”

Electrified Wingsuit Wingsuit Peter Salzmann Wingsuit Pilot fly suit
Wingsuit flying Electric Wingsuit making-of
The wiry, toned athlete comes across as relaxed and down-to-earth, but
with a charisma that instantly casts a spell over you. For weeks,
Salzmann worked in his garage at home on ways to implement the idea of
a wingsuit with assistive propulsion technology with the aim of
propelling on his sport and entering new, unknown territory. The
Austria native wants to increase his gliding time, take off from
greater heights, fly further than ever before and land safely in a
suitable place. “I quickly came up with the idea of an impeller, in
other words a propeller enclosed by a ring or tube-shaped housing.
However, a fuel-powered or conventional motor was out of the
question,” Salzmann points out. “Sustainability is very important to
me, and something I try to live my everyday life by. I enjoy nature
from the air and on the ground – that’s why I aim to consistently
follow the path of sustainability even when it comes to mobility. With
the fully electric BMW iX3, I can now do that when preparing for my
latest jumps – and thanks in no small part to the support of BMW i,
the progress in electrification has made my dream possible.”

There comes a time in life when you have to decide whether you want to
continue doing what you’ve always done, or whether you want to try
something new. Peter Salzmann wants to progress, but he also knows
that he needs expert help to do so. And he finds it at BMW i in 2017.
“Our future-oriented approach with electric propulsion systems and
innovative materials and technologies were a perfect fit for Peter
Salzmann’s unusual but fascinating idea. In my opinion, Peter Salzmann
perfectly embodies the attitude of the BMW i brand with his unique
vision, his passion and his courage. I was also very impressed by his
physical effort, combined with in-depth technical knowledge and a very
clear understanding of the brand,” says Stefan Ponikva, at the time
patron of the project at BMW i and now Vice President Brand

Electrified Wingsuit Wingsuit Peter Salzmann Wingsuit Pilot fly suit
Wingsuit flying Electric Wingsuit making-of wind tunnel wind tunnel

With one eye on the simultaneous development of the fully electric BMW
iX3, the solution was obvious – they would develop an electric
wingsuit together. They would develop an electric propulsion system
for lofty heights – powered by renewable energy, compact enough to
work with a regular wingsuit, and with limited heat generation – an
enhancement of the well-known fly suit design that would enable an
immediate start and a truly agile flight experience. “I enjoy tackling
challenges like this. Developing new suits, testing new equipment and
promoting the sport of wingsuit flying in different ways – that’s what
drives me,” says Salzmann. “And in BMW I’ve found the perfect creative
partner to realize the project with the highest safety standards and
all the necessary development steps.”

Find out more
CO2 emissions 0 g/km (combined) Fuel consumption 0 l/100 km (combined)
Power consumption 17,8-17,5 kWh/100 km (combined)
At the same time, close contact was established – through BMW i – with
Designworks, the BMW Group’s design innovation studio. The studio
provided Salzmann with experts to work with the wingsuit pilot on
developing the fly suit adapted to the new propulsion technology, and
the electric impeller. “From a technical standpoint we brought in
Designworks, who are experts in bringing together the needs of
mobility and other sectors,” added Ponikva. Realizing this vision
together with his team was a personal moment of joy for him. “Only an
electric impeller is lightweight and agile enough to enable regular
wingsuit flying and basejumping. Light enough to climb mountains with,
agile enough to fly tight turns and maneuvers, and yet quiet enough
not to disturb the purity of the flight.”

The electrified wingsuit flight was a project close to my heart and,
through the literal elevation of our BMW i technology, an innovative
communication statement.
Stefan Ponikva
Wingsuit project patron at BMW

Ideas became sketches, sketches became digital models, and digital
models became the first prototypes. “The very first one was made of
cardboard – and I built it so that I could get a feel for the size of
the fly unit, i.e. the impeller unit including the batteries and
everything that goes with it,” explains Salzmann. Two models were
produced, one large and one smaller unit. The next step was an
aluminum prototype that did not, however, contain any impellers or
electronics. It was used to simulate the weight and dimensions and was
worn by Salzmann with a harness and breast piece.

“The development process was a constant up and down, we were always
facing new challenges,” reveals Salzmann. “Initially we were going to
put the propulsion unit on the back. But after the initial drawings
and discussions with aerodynamics experts, we decided to move the fly
unit to the front.” Salzmann and the team also quickly had to abandon
the plan to use the larger version of the impeller, and the extra 40%
of output it offered. “The very first time I tried the fly suit on, it
was clear to me that the whole thing would be too heavy and that I
would only have limited movement. The thing is, comfort and feeling
safe are the most important things when jumping, and I also need
freedom of movement so that I can open the parachute later.” The
engineers therefore focused on the smaller model – still around 40
inches (1 m) wide – which was then fine-tuned via wind tunnel testing.
The final fly unit, with its two propellers, each around 5 inches (13
cm) in diameter, ultimately resembles a futuristic mini-submarine. It
gets its electricity from a 50 V lithium battery, weighs in at around
26 lbs (12 kg) and is attached to the pilot’s breastplate by means of
a hinge unit. The two carbon impellers in the lightweight carbon fiber
and aluminum structure have a combined output of 15 kilowatts and run
at a speed of around 25,000 rpm.

Electrified Wingsuit Wingsuit Peter Salzmann Wingsuit Pilot fly suit
Wingsuit flying Electric Wingsuit making-of wind tunnel wind tunnel

The first series of tests with the fly suit were carried out in the
AEROLAB, BMW’s horizontal wind tunnel. The wind tunnel testing was
used to validate and compare the various impeller variants and
wingsuits. “During the first few runs we tested the entire ensemble
with a dummy, but with the original impellers and wingsuits, and
measured all forces and moments. We then decided on a variant of the
impeller and the specific positioning,” explains Salzmann. The next
step involved a trip to Sweden. “The first test in the wingsuit wind
tunnel in Stockholm was a milestone for me. I couldn’t stop grinning.
Because until that moment I had no idea whether I could control a
flight with the impeller. This skydiving wind tunnel is the only one
in the world where a wingsuit pilot can fly indoors. Here I was able
to simulate the flight and also test whether I could open my parachute
without problem. And it felt so stable! I knew then that we were on
the right track.” With this preliminary design of the propulsion unit,
Salzmann then performed the first test jumps from a helicopter in
order to get a feel for the influence of the equipment on flight
behavior. In the next step, two prototypes were constructed with the
impeller, battery technology and the necessary electronics built in,
and then it was time to hit the air.

Salzmann completed more than 30 test jumps with the fly unit. “After
evaluating the initial jumps, we came to the conclusion that the
impellers were still not getting enough air flow. We therefore
integrated additional air inlets into the wingsuit.” The propulsion
system was designed in close cooperation with BMW i and Designworks
and optimized down to the smallest detail. Another discovery was that
the weight was too high and had to be reduced. “And we had to come up
with an emergency cut-off solution for the fly unit, develop a
steering facility and position an on/off switch in such a way that I
could easily operate it at any time. This throttle is now on the left
sleeve and can be controlled with the middle and ring fingers.”


Electrified Wingsuit Wingsuit Peter Salzmann Wingsuit Pilot fly suit
Wingsuit flying Electric Wingsuit making-of wind tunnel wind tunnel

It’s early morning and the sun is slowly rising over the Drei Brüder
peaks in the Hohe Tauern mountain range in the Alps. The countdown is
on; in half an hour Peter Salzmann will launch the pivotal jump. The
electrified wingsuit has been checked down to the last detail, every
screw and every seam on the equipment inspected. While the prospect of
jumping from 10,000 feet (3,000 m) or more would definitely make
others nervous, Peter Salzmann remains cool and carefree. Calm, but
visibly energized, he explains to his team how he intends to complete
the flight. It was actually supposed to have taken place on the other
side of the world – Salzmann originally planned to complete this jump
in Korea in the spring of 2020. But the outbreak of the COVID-19
pandemic put a stop to his plans for a world premiere in Korea. Then,
after months of uncertainty, relief was finally forthcoming. When the
pandemic began to abate, the project got back on track and the new
location in Austria was found. The team was able to resume planning,
equipment testing and test jumps. Now, a few months later, Salzmann’s
dream of flying in a way no-one has ever flown before is about to be

Electrified Wingsuit Wingsuit Peter Salzmann Wingsuit Pilot fly suit
Wingsuit flying Electric Wingsuit Drei Brüder the Alps
Is he nervous? No. “There’s always a certain amount of tension, of
course, and that’s a good thing. You always have to be aware of the
consequences of mistakes. With this amount of speed and physical
strain, everything has to be done right. Over the years I’ve
cultivated a level of experience that now gives me the security of
sitting in the helicopter with a smile, even if that might surprise
some people out there. When the chopper takes off, the equipment has
been checked and I’ve gone over the processes point by point in my
head. For me, the journey up is now just one thing: pure
anticipation.” A jump not only requires mental strength, but also
physical fitness, explains Salzmann, assuming a flight position to
illustrate. “The load on the body is enormous, especially with
additional equipment. I can keep my arms in this outstretched position
for about five minutes. I’ve been doing special training every day for
months to strengthen my core, neck and shoulder muscles.”

3, 2, 1, Go! Salzmann receives the long-awaited signal over the radio.
Viewed from the ground, the wingsuit pilot is initially just a small
dot in the sky, but quickly gets closer. As the helicopter veers off,
Salzmann quickly picks up speed in his fly suit. He rushes past rock
faces with a gap of just a few feet (1-2 m) as heads towards the
valley. In flight, Salzmann always focuses on specific points along
the mountain in order to maintain his course and to be able to react
in good time if necessary. Yet the Austrian is very much in his

1 / 14
Making the future tangible – from a crazy idea to its realization –
there’s no better reward than being able to realize your vision. I’m
so proud that the team got the job done... and when I saw the first
video of Peter gaining altitude while the other pilots descend, I was
literally speechless!
Holger Hampf
President of Designworks

For three years he has given everything for this moment. In the past
two years he has jumped more often than ever before – and faced
situations where he went outside the envelope. Then, the time has
come: he pulls the slider towards him with his middle and ring fingers
– and is pushed back up from the descent, as if by invisible forces,
by the electric propulsion system he has activated. Salzmann’s efforts
and toil are rewarded, just as he imagined – with a quiet moment of
euphoria at a height of over 3,000 feet (over 1,000 m). Just before he
opens his parachute, he enjoys the last few electrified yards or
meters of thrust, breathes out, and pull his ‘chute. In order to
redefine the limits of his sport, he pushed himself to his own limits.

Electrified Wingsuit Wingsuit Peter Salzmann Wingsuit Pilot fly suit
Wingsuit flying Electric Wingsuit Drei Brüder the Alps
It’s now afternoon at the Drei Brüder. Peter Salzmann has landed
safely; he packs up his parachute, carefully attaches the impeller
onto a specially made mobile holder unit that is a little reminiscent
of a modified hand cart, and stows the rest of the equipment in his
BMW iX3. A look back toward the mountains, then it’s time for home and
family. The feeling of exhilaration from the flight will stay with him
on his journey home. “For me, driving this new electric BMW iX3 has
parallels to my wingsuit experience. The sound is similar, as is the
feeling of immediate acceleration.

It’s impressive and it feels good to be continuing on my sustainable
path through electromobility, whether that’s on the road or in the
air.” Peter Salzmann is not one for resting on his laurels. The
daredevil wants to go even higher. The South Korea plan has only been
postponed, not cancelled – the energetic Austrian wants to fly between
high-rise buildings there. “I will have to train more. We will
optimize the technique and look ahead boldly.”

The art of progress, after all, lies in bursting free of the familiar
and breaking new ground.

Electrified Wingsuit Wingsuit Peter Salzmann Wingsuit Pilot fly suit
Wingsuit flying Electric Wingsuit Drei Brüder the Alps BMW iX3

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