Jet-pack pilot crosses Colorado’s Royal Gorge
CANON CITY, Colo. A jet-pack pilot has flown across the 1,500-foot-wide, 1,100-foot-deep Royal Gorge in southern Colorado.Go Fast Sports & Beverage, which sponsored the stunt, said Eric Scott of Jet Pack International took 21 seconds to cross the Royal Gorge at 75 mph today.Scott didn’t use a parachute.Jet Pack International developed the hydrogen-peroxide-powered jet pack for stunts, promotions and other events for Go Fast.Both companies are based in Denver and were founded by entrepreneur Troy Widgery.”It’s pretty much incomparable to anything I’ve done in the past,” Scott said last week via cell phone from Mexico City, where he was performing similar though not quite as daunting feats with the jet pack. “I’ve never done a distance that long, and then there’s such a huge gap below.”Jet P.I., developed the futuristic-looking jet pack for stunts, promotions and other events around the world.The Royal Gorge test ranks as the longest, highest flight attempt for the Go Fast Jet Pack, the company said.The Royal Gorge has seen its share of stunts, although it typically doesn’t attract the types of daring acts that, say, Niagara Falls does.Still, it was the site of a tragic stunt in 2003 when a world-renowned Australian sky diver wearing a special “wing suit” died after he miscalculated and slammed into the bridge. The accident happened during an inaugural sky-diving event sponsored by Go Fast.Several other people have died while attempting to parachute from the bridge.Scott admitted that one small problem could have created devastating results, but he is confident in the technology.The jet pack is based on an earlier model developed in the 1960s by Bell Aerosystems for the military. The original machine was too heavy. And it could fly for only about 20 seconds, making it highly impractical. The technology eventually gathered dust until Widgery and a buddy decided to take a stab at developing a lighter pack that could fly longer.They formed Jet P.I. to accomplish that task. After several years of development, trial and plenty of error, they developed their version: a jet pack that can fly for about 33 seconds using hydrogen peroxide as fuel.The pack also incorporates carbon fiber technology, which helps to lighten the load.Widgery said he initially thought he could build the jet pack for about $20,000, but he has pumped in an estimated $1 million.But the jet pack also now brings in some cash up to $25,000 per event. Last year, it appeared during Monday Night Football.The company hopes to develop a lighter, more advanced model featuring a turbine that would be able to fly for nine minutes. Widgery said there could be military or police applications for such a jet pack, although, in reality, it might be able to tap only an extremely niche market.”It’ll probably be more of a novelty than anything,” he said. “It’ll be more for people like (British tycoon) Richard Branson and extreme athletes.”
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