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Ski and mountain rescue – the now and future?

A collaboration between Gravity Industries, which has developed and patented a 1050 brake horsepower Jet Suit, and the Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS), led to an incredibly well-documented, successful test flight and hill rescue mission in the heart of the Lake District, UK.

Introducing the Jet Suit

Founder of Gravity Industries and Chief Test Pilot, Richard Browning, used his skills and vision create the world’s first patented Jet Suit. The Jet Suit currently can perform speeds in excess of 80mph (although, yes, we know some of you may feel that you already ski at this speed anyway on a good downhill day in Kitzbuhel 😉 ) – the suit is technically capable of reaching an altitude of 12,000ft (although for safety purposes, it is typically flown lower).

Great North Air Ambulance Service (GNAAS) showcased the Gravity Suit, an item of ‘mecha’ flying clothing capable of performing mountain and hill rescue wherein the travel distance compared to traditional air ambulance service, such as that which may require a helicopter, is much faster with a suit. The Gravity suit has the potential to be empowering and a life-saver than the transport which is currently available to mountain rescue services currently in use across the world.

The test making this use case occurred most notably, and recently, at the Langdale Pikes saw Gravity Industries founder and Chief Test Pilot Richard Browning fly from the valley bottom to a simulated casualty site on The Band, near Bowfell – a 2,950ft peak in one of the UK’s biggest national parks.

Air Ambulance successfully trial the Gravity suit in the Lake District

Andy Mawson, director of operations and paramedic at GNAAS, identified the Lakes as a possible location for a Jet Suit paramedic after hearing of Mr. Browning’s work and then studying the charity’s own call-out data. Mr. Mawson said the exercise had demonstrated the huge potential of utilising Jet Suits to deliver critical care services.

He added: “In a time in healthcare when we are exhausted with COVID and its effects, it’s important to still push the boundaries. We think this technology could enable our team to reach some patients much quicker than ever before. In many cases this would ease the patient’s suffering. In some cases, it would save their lives.”

Ski mountain rescue: the suit in action

Using the suit, medics, or specialist mountaineering rescuers, could be flown directly to the site of an emergency, instead of having to walk up or down, or take the risk of flying in a chopper. While these types of flights are only for experimental purposes for the moment, the team hopes they could be a crucial part of a future mountain rescue.
Richard Browning added: “It was wonderful to be invited to explore the capabilities of the Gravity Jet Suit in an emergency response simulation and work alongside the team at GNAAS. We are just scratching the surface in terms of what is possible to achieve with our technology. Emergency response is one of the areas Gravity are actively pursuing, alongside launching a new commercial training location at the world-renowned Goodwood Estate.” Following this successful trial and the record-breaking times in terms of ascending the fell, GNAAS and Gravity Industries are now exploring the next steps in this collaboration.

Why the Jet Suit is a game-changer for ski mountain rescue

To anyone who has seen a mountain rescue helicopter approach a scene of crash and disaster, the great saving of valuable time that the Jet Suit could promise the whole skiing industry is more than apparent – we can’t wait to see the next iteration of this exciting ski mountain rescue technology.

Gravity Industries designs, builds and flies Jet Suits, “pioneering a new era of human flight” – it’s hard to argue with that!

The company was founded to challenge perceived boundaries in human aviation. Launched in March 2017, the business secured a raise: totalling $650,000 investment within the first two months from Tim & Adam Draper, Tim best known for his early investments in Baidu Inc., Tesla and Skype.

The company says that it’s true focus is the relentless evolution of the technology as well as bringing “this inspirational spectacle to live audiences all over the world in the form of the International Race Series and other performance events.”

As of this winter season, Gravity is allowing potential clients of the jet suit to fully experience it (tethered, though, just in case you get giddy!) over at Goodwood. Hey, if you can’t fly out to your favourite ski resort for the Coronavirus – why not fly –literally– with your body?

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