BMW believed it could fly and now it’s proved it. The German marque just successfully sent air sports pioneer Peter Salzmann soaring through the sky at speeds of up to 299 km/hr in a newly developed electric wingsuit.
The innovative concept was a joint effort between BMW, Designworks and Salzmann. The professional skydiver and BASE jumper said the idea arose while he was thinking of ways to improve performance in the air.
“One of them was a supporting motor – and it’s an idea I just couldn’t shake,” Salzmann told BMW. “I found the idea of being able to jump from my local mountain wearing the wingsuit and land in my garden fascinating.”
After three years of intensive research and countless test flights in BMW’s horizontal wind tunnel, Salzmann and the wingsuit completed the maiden flight over the picturesque mountains of Austria last week. The 33-year-old was dropped by a helicopter at just shy of 3,048 m alongside two other fliers sporting conventional wingsuits. BMW says the electric wingsuit enabled Salzmann to accelerate faster than his mates at a peak speed of 299 km/hr. (Normal wingsuit operators typically reach horizontal speeds around 100 km/hr.)
The e-wingsuit is built upon BMW i EV technology and powered by a chest-mounted rig. It offers 15 kW of grunt that’s split between two 7.5 kW carbon impellers. The impellers spin at a speed of 25,000 rpm and produce thrust for up to five minutes. The aim of the electric wingsuit is to increase performance and eventually allow for longer distances to be covered.
In the video of the feat, the trio glide in tandem before Salzmann uses his kilowattage to boost above another mountain and actually manages to gain altitude while the other pilots descend. Yep, just like a real-life Iron Man. All three then deploy parachutes and land safely.
The wingsuit was revealed as part of BMW’s NextGen 2020 event in which the automaker offers a unique look ahead to the future of mobility. BMW will showcase an array of new tech and also reveal the new iNext electric crossover.
While Salzmann’s first flight was a resounding success, it appears he’s not resting on his laurels. According to BMW, the daredevil wants to fly between the skyscrapers of South Korea next.
“I will have to train more,” the Austrian adds. “We will optimise the technique and look ahead boldly.”
We have no doubt. Godspeed, Salzmann.