The Expansive Limitations of the Human Body
Ever since we have inhabited the earth, we have been continuously enhancing our bodies and extending our limitations. From repeatedly faster world records during each olympic event due to rigorous training, to the use of technology to allow us to stay underwater for minutes on end and even survive in space we have been finding ways to push the limits of what our bodies can withstand and do.
Ever since I was young I have always dreamed about having the superpower of being able to fly. The freedom to zoom across the horizon with the wind whipping in your face always seemed so exhilarating to me.
In todays modern world we are seeing some pretty amazing things, all resulting from electronics becoming smaller and smaller. Exoskeletons and prosthetics have allowed those that lost body parts to regain function, as well as amplify the strength of healthy users.
Skydiving and wing suit flying are extreme sports that allow us to experience the feelings of free fall and flying, but eventually gravity brings us back to the ground. For years engineers and daredevils alike have risked their lives trying to extend the range with which we can fly before returning to earth.
The research conducted by Geoffery Robson and Raffaello D'Andrea focused on achieving sustained wing suit flight with the assistance of jets. This comprehensive research is what reignited my interest in human flight. For this to be possible though there needed to be a jet turbine and control system that could be easily integrated with a wing suit, without burning the user in the process.
The introduction of the multiple stage axial-flow micro turbine really changed the game, allowing for more control and thrust in a smaller package. First came model airplane engines, which in turned transformed into small scale jet turbines for hobbyists. From there things took off with jetpacks that could sustain flight for a few seconds.
Despite all of these projects and ideas there is always two main obstacles; stabilization and a sustained fuel source. Robson's research does an excellent job of tackling stabilization but he could still only fly for so long before running out of fuel.
Unfortunately Robson's curiosity led to his death during a wing suit proximity flight where he failed to clear a ridge, serving as a solemn warning to the dangers of pushing our human limits.