Peter Salzmann is an Austrian daredevil. As a base jumper, he takes his life into his own hands on a regular basis, but apparently, the rush of falling from a helicopter and soaring downward through clouds and beautiful landscapes wasn’t cutting it anymore. Salzmann wanted a way to prolong his jumps. In essence, he wanted to fly. That’s where BMW came in.
Salzmann worked with BMW’s i division to create a set of impellers for his wingsuit. The theory was that if the impellers create enough thrust, they would allow him to prolong his jumps. Think of Salzmann as sort of a human kite.
It took three years for the electrified wingsuit to go from concept to completion. During that time, the suit was tested in a number of wind tunnels specifically designed to work out the aerodynamics of specialist flight gear such as wingsuits. The pack itself is made from carbon fiber and aluminum, which allow the whole thing to tip the scales at just 26 pounds. Each impeller spins at about 25,000 rpm and has an output of 15 kW (about 20 hp, or is that bird power?). Power comes courtesy of a 50-volt lithium battery.
With the wingsuit finished, Salzmann had to see if it worked. High in the mountains in his home country of Austria, he put on the wingsuit, took off in a helicopter, and then dived toward the ground from 10,000 feet up. On his way down, Salzmann fired the suit up and was able to fly high above the Three Brothers mountain range. To be frank, it looks like it was an absolute thrill. Where do we sign up?