For those of you who thought Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit was too high-tech for reality, I’ve got news for you: It definitely was, but Marvel’s genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist wasn’t as far ahead of the curve as the movies would have you believe. Confused about what I mean? The British Royal Marines have assembled jetpacks, and they are just as sleek-looking as you’d expect.
But these new jetpacks don’t just boast a “cool” factor. They can also stay in the air for around eight minutes. Currently, the suits can travel up to 55 mph. Similarly, but separately, the US Naval Institute brought word last year that US Special Operations Command was developing a jet suit that they hoped could reach around 200 mph.
The footage of Marines jetpacking through the sky comes to us from the Gravity Industries YouTube channel, which showcases all kinds of fun tech. You can check out the cool new jetpacks in the video below:
According to the video’s description, these jetpacks were designed to help with boarding ops. Gravity Industries developed the jetpacks, jet suits…whatever you’d like to call them, for the Royal Marines, which has since incorporated the new technology into their boarding ops training exercises.
The video only clocks in at around 3 minutes, but as it turns out, that is more than enough time for the Royal Marines to show off their fancy new jetpacks. Honestly, some of it does not even look real. It may be a “too cool to be true” kind of thing, but watching marines rocket around in jetpacks is definitely surreal. Fortunately, unlike all of those UFO “sightings,” the existence of this technology is substantiated in high-quality videos such as the one included above.
Curious about the history of jetpacks? Well, it stretches further back than you may realize! According to Popular Mechanics, several inventions served as precursors of sorts. These breakthroughs include the Hiller VZ-1 Flying Platform, which was developed by Stanley Hiller in 1955. Just three years later, Thiokol Chemical Corporation unveiled a nitrogen-fueled jump belt, which didn’t gift man with the ability to fly but definitely allowed its users to run faster and jump higher. In 1960, Bell Aerosystems engineer Wendell Moore is commissioned to create the Bell Rocket Belt for the U.S. Army. Though it couldn’t thrust for longer than 21 seconds, the Bell Rocket Belt did feature hand controls that enabled its user to steer. Then, in 1994, NASA introduced the SAFER (Simplified Aid for EVA Rescue). This new technology functioned as a propulsive jetpack that helps jet astronauts to safety should they come untethered in space. Pretty handy, right?
Much more recently, in 2005, Adam Savage and Jamie Hyneman, better known as the Mythbusters, attempted to construct a jetpack from resources they found online. Spoiler alert: the experiment did not succeed. Just a year later, Swiss pilot Yves Rossy uses a kerosene-fueled winged pack to cross the English Channel, fly over the Alps, and then eventually survive a crash in the Strait of Gibraltar.
I’m going to echo the video’s description by saying: The footage absolutely speaks for itself. Give it a gander!