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Could Jetpack Suits Be The Future Of Alpine Rescues?

(CBS4)- The idea started out as many do, in the form of a question.

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(credit: Gravity Industries)

"Could you just add the missing component to a human being, which is horsepower in order to fly? It turns out, you can!" laughed Richard Browning, the founder and chief test pilot for Gravity Industries.

His first working model of the jet suit got off the ground in 2017. Now, he's finding all sorts of new applications for what he called "the magic carpet" ability the suits provide, moving over any kind of terrain incredibly quickly.

"I honestly think this is an amazing first response system," Browning said. "The analogy, if people are struggling with this, is a paramedic on a motorbike or a bicycle, you know, they don't shlep you over their lap and take you to hospital. You know, they get there and keep you alive whilst the cavalry arrives."

Charley Shimanski is here to bring some of those high-flying dreams back down to Earth, at least in a sense. Among many things, he's an education director with the Mountain Rescue Association. He said first and foremost, he would love to try out the jet suits in Colorado.

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(credit: Gravity Industries)

"You know the old adage, never say never. But at the same time, we'd really want to address whether there's a high demand or a high need," Shimanski said.

Aside from concerns about a combustion engine flying over some of the driest parts of our state, combined with concerns over altitude and how that would affect the flight of a paramedic, Shimanski said he's focused on the cost vs. the benefit of the whole operation.

"The big question is, will transporting one paramedic in a limited amount of payload to a scene very, very quickly really be a game-changer for us? And that's that's what we want to be able to really experiment with."

Still, when push comes to shove, Shimanski couldn't help but be curious about the possibility of sending paramedics jetting up the side of a mountain to get to victims in record times.

"I think it could easily be in our lifetimes that something like this could be very, very feasible, whether it's the jet suit or not remains to be seen."

Browning is currently entertaining multiple different potential uses for his creation between military and SAR operations but said avalanche rescues are an avenue they want to explore.

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(credit: Gravity Industries)

"It's one of the things on our bucket list because I think that could be really impactful."

If you're interested in checking out additional flying videos from Gravity, take a look at their Instagram: @TakeOnGravity or on their YouTube channel.


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