Dubai hosts first-ever jet suit race that’s ‘exactly like Iron Man’

  • Dubai has hosted the world’s first-ever jet suit race
  • Pilots wearing suits more powerful than a sports car.
  • Participants wore jet engines on their hands and backs to zip along the skyscraper-lined route

Published on Feb 29, 2024 at 5:02 PM (UTC+4)
by Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

Last updated on Mar 01, 2024 at 1:29 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Alessandro Renesis

Dubai has hosted the first-ever jet suit race for pilots wearing suits more powerful than a sports car.

Pilots descended on the United Arab Emirates race featured pilots wearing jet suits more powerful than most luxury sports cars.

The jet suit race included participants with jet engines on their hands and backs to zip along the skyscraper-lined route.

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In fact, these jet suits are so powerful they pack up to 1,500-horsepower.

To put that into context: that’s more powerful than some supercars.

And they’re almost as fast, too.

The jet suit race saw pilots reaching speeds of up to 128 km/h (80 mph), according to Gravity Industries, the firm that organized the race with Dubai.

The suits use the same kind of fuel used by Dubai-based long-haul carrier Emirates’ Airbus A380s and Boeing 777 aircraft.

Taking place on Wednesday (27 February), the roar was near deafening as the pilots powered up their suits at the runway start line at Dubai Marina by Skydive Dubai.

While jet suits do have practical uses like this paramedic who was able to reach the top of a mountain in 3-minutes and Domino’s delivering pizza to Glastonbury using a jet pack.

Much like the Marvel comic book legend, Iron Man, the pilots were fully in control of the jet engines on their hands and their backs.

“The closest analogy would be that dream of flying … and then go wherever your mind is taking you,” said Richard Browning, founder and chief test pilot for Gravity Industries.

“And yes, the world of Marvel superheroes and DC Comics, they have created that dream book with CGI, and we’ve got the closest I think anybody’s ever got to to delivering that for real.”

As the race began, pilots jumped and leaned forward, speeding around obstacles in a water channel near the site.

Organizers chose the water-side location to allow pilots go faster and skim above the water.

“It’s pretty amazing to see that they can do this in Dubai and they have these guys flying over the water,” said spectator Jennifer Ross.

“It’s kind of like astronauts flying around in space.”

Others on the sidelines described being eager to have a go themselves.

“You can see the best show you can ever see in Dubai because people are flying — they are flying in the sky,” said Pratik Vyas.

“It’s a next-level tech. It’s really, really nice because if you’re a big fan of Iron Man, you know, Tony Stark, it’s Iron Man tech.”

Dubai has long been fascinated by flight, boasting the world’s busiest airport for international travel and signing up for flying taxis in the near future.

Dubai also has become somewhat of a capital for adventure sports too.

The race took place next to Skydive Dubai, the thrill-seeking firm associated with the sheikhdom’s Crown Prince Hamdan bin Mohammed Al Maktoum.

XDubai, also associated with Sheikh Hamdan, has run zip line attractions over Dubai Marina and downtown by the world’s tallest building, the Burj Khalifa.

Pilot Issa Kalfon was the ultimate winner, triumphantly hoisting a golden jet turbine.

While he gets nervous before flights, he said he feels the jet suit race is safe.

“Everything’s hot, it’s running, the engines are screaming at you,” he said.

“And the flag drops, and it’s just — you absolutely go for it.”

Despite all safety precautions in place, Emirati pilot, Ahmed al-Shehhi, did experience a crash.

However, in spite of falling feet0first into the water, he emerged moments later to give rescuers a reassuring thumbs up.

Some of the images in this article were created using AI.

# Tags - Dubai, Tech


Amelia Jean Hershman-Jones

London-based Amelia cut her journalistic teeth covering all things lifestyle, wellness and luxury in the UK capital. Fast-forward a decade and the experienced content creator and editor has put pen to paper for glossy magazines, busy newsrooms and coveted brands. When her OOO is on you can find her spending quality time with her young family, in the gym or exploring the city she loves.