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Mentioned in the article how the French military has shown a fiscal backed interest for using this as an observation or assault platform.

Whilst platform is viable with gyro's or computer aided flying if you wish. How much kickback can it handle - could you actually fire a gun from this? But certainly does negate many of the aspect people have against armed drones as this is in effect a human drone.

But it is pretty neat, as many recall the facination with jetpacks and the dreams that we would all have them in the 60's/70's (along with flying cars), so this kinda ticks many box's of past dreams.

As for distance/flight time - kerosene is pretty dense energy wise, and I can't think of anything else that would be as flexible and offer greater energy density. But still, if you compare this to jetpacks - very impressive.

For me one use case for something like this may well be firefighting or certainly a way to escape a tall building that is on fire from your flat balcony.

Yea an assault helicopter transports troops to many locations and brings with it enough fire power to suppress anybody on the ground, however, it’s somewhat common that helicopters get hit by rpg’s and similar things by ground forces as they are landing or about to land so it does happen that helicopters crash land when deployed into the middle of a firefight and everybody climbs out rapidly and now are stranded. These personal airborne mobile weapons platforms (I’m sure there is an acronym there somewhere), would be much more effective if there was a swarm of say 20 of them. You couldn’t just shoot an rpg at all of them and they would have the high ground basically always and could just rain fire down on you from basically all angles.. sniper nest? Better be an igloo.. top of a building? Not enough cover..

Another place they could be used is to escape following a covert raid.. you would carry or stash the platforms someplace near the operation before hand then jump on them and all take off, you would only hear them escaping.

> You couldn’t just shoot an rpg at all of them

Yes, a single explosive projectile wouldn't be too effective, but consider an RPG round loaded with cluster bombs, shrapnel, or flechettes. Or the good ol' pray-n-spray with small-arms fire. You don't need much kinetic energy to kill a human on a hoverboard (or at least knock him off).

Helicopters put all of your eggs in one basket, but least it's a somewhat armored basket.

> How much kickback can it handle - could you actually fire a gun from this?

I don't think it's stable at all, and the only reason it stays vertical is because Zapata is unbelievably skilled at piloting it. That's why everything he does is above water. I was dreading the Bastille Day thing because I figured there was about a 25% that it would turn out poetically badly.

He did a presentation in Austin TX for the MotoGP earlier in the year... over the track, no water. Despite knowing Frank from our old js racing days, I must admit I noted his success(despite all of our incredulity) and immediately fast forwarded to the warm-up lap.

I saw him at a Redbull Air Race, doing the same flight track than the planes pilots.

Not as quick or admirable than the planes fighting for centiseconds, but still a pretty impressive live feat, making you think you’re seeing the future!

Navies are looking into this type of aircraft for opposed boarding operations. Like if they have to seize a merchant ship due to hijacking or sanctions violation. In some situations it could be safer and more effective than sending troops by helicopter.

The US military has been investing in this kind of technology since the 1950s. Here's an example from the Hiller Aviation Museum in San Carlos, California:


If you like amazing things that fly (and a couple that don't) the Hiller Aviation Museum is a must-see. I've never seen anything like it.

Reminds me of BattleTech's Elementals: http://www.sarna.net/wiki/Elemental_(Battle_Armor)

> How much kickback can it handle - could you actually fire a gun from this?

That's a problem that could be solved by firing a blank round (of similar momentum to the live round) in the opposite direction.

Zapata in an interview after the crossing indicated his invention calls on lots of core muscles, I assume in order to stay on top of the device. So forget about shouldering a gun on that thing.

Also if these kinds of devices are going to be armored, that’s gonna add to weight and fuel efficiency and maneuvering. At that point are to that much better than a UAV or helicopter?

The french military parade with Macron had me laughing my head off when I saw the clip.

If anyone wanted to defend against this type of aerial soldier other than them sticking out like a sore thumb to shoot people would could put up some thin cabling between tall building.

Do they even need to do that? He's got a tank full of kerosene on his back, a single rifle shot from someone with a good aim will be enough.

Self sealing fuel tanks have been around for a while, fascinating simple and clever design back during WW2 that saved many a life (and plane).


True, but it's very unlikely that the flyboard has some sort of redundancy built in: if a single jet engine gets hit the whole thing goes down. Exposive/incendiary ammo would also defeat the self sealing tank, assuming he's using one. To me it's a wonderful piece of engineering and I'd drool to pilot one (a few meters above sea level, I'm not a hero:^) but I wouldn't bring one in battle. It could make sense though to build a similar contraption under military jet pilots seats, so that if the pilot ejects, the seat brings him as far away as possible from enemy territory before deploying the parachute.

There are seven engines, and the firmware can adjust to the loss of one. "The company also says it’s intuitive and safe to use, with the computer-controlled systems providing built-in redundancies and automatic compensation if one of the jet engines fails. “I thought it was a gust of wind,” Henry Berkowitz, one of the two former special operators who now work for Zapata, told CNBC in 2017."

See https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/23854/one-company-thin...

Thanks for the link! That makes it even more interesting. That military pilot makes it seem even more similar to a flying segway. I only wonder the amount of energy used to drive the center of gravity to maintain balance. In other words, if the same fixture was mounted as a jet backpack how much efficiency would be gained, if any?

Interesting thought about ejector seats, though those currently use solid fueled rockets iirc, as much safer.

Though it does as you say, offer some form of assisted powered control decent option. Not sure on the altitude and I know that becomes a factor for jets. Big difference operating around sea level and a few thousand feet up.

For me, something like this that would give firefighters the ability to reach and rescue people trapped up high in a building, even if one at a time. That truely opens up progress.

Alas the fire services have never ever had the same RnD budgets of military services, which is a thought that opens up a whole raft of debate as an indictment upon how we view protecting lives and assets - given fire in the modern world kills more people. For example in the UK in you get around 300 deaths a year due to fire. Compared with an average of 50 lives a year military wise. Though it is a bit like comparing apples with pears, it does make you think how some priorities are more grounded in history than others.

Now what this might open up as a viable alternative to parachute would be helicopters that tend to operate at altitudes that preclude any parachute. Sure you would need to eject the rotor and seen that upon military helicopters, that eject the cockpit. But this might open up safety upon more commercial offering.

Kerosene in the form of modern Jet A-1 fuel is not very flammable. It would probably be impossible to ignite it with a bullet.

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