Taking flight: BMW i flies a man in the world's first electric wingsuit
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Taking flight: BMW i flies a man in the world's first electric wingsuit

Taking flight: BMW i flies a man in the world's first electric wingsuit

Image: BMW i

BMW i, the German automaker's division responsible for designing its electric products, has created the world's first electric wingsuit.

  • A collaborative effort with BMW-subsidiary Designworks and the professional wingsuit pilot Peter Salzmann from Austria, the wingsuit successfully completed its maiden flight this week over the Austrian alps
  • BMW's electric wingsuit is capable of reaching speeds over 300 km/h (186 mph)
  • Wingsuit flight has existed for many years, the stuff of film and extreme sports. It began gaining mainstream popularity as an extreme sport around the turn of the century, providing adrenaline junkies with an experience like no other.

BMW i, the German automaker's division responsible for designing its electric products, has created the world's first electric wingsuit. 

A collaborative effort with BMW-subsidiary Designworks and the professional wingsuit pilot Peter Salzmann from Austria, the wingsuit successfully completed its maiden flight this week over the Austrian alps.

This fruit of this collaboration has been manifold, and includes the fly unit of the Electrified Wingsuit by BMW i (the wingsuit's official name). which comprises two encased carbon propellers, so-called impellers, each delivering a power output of 7.5 kW, a speed of around 25,000 rpm and a total output of 15 kW, which is available for approximately 5 minutes. 

Compared to the average speeds of regular wingsuits, which top out at around 100 km/h (62 mph), the BMW wingsuit is leaps beyond, capable of reaching speeds over 300 km/h (186 mph). Generally, with each meter of descent, up to three meters of horizontal flight can be achieved. 

The maiden flight journeyImage: BMW iThe aim of the electric drive system is to increase the performance of the wingsuit in order to achieve a better constant glide flight, thus allowing longer distances to be covered. Upon activation, Salzmann explains, the pilot experiences immediate acceleration, allowing them to fly at coveted speeds of more than 300 km/h. 

For the maiden flight with the electric wingsuit, Salzmann was flown by helicopter together with two other pilots in regular wingsuits over the mountain tops of his Austrian homeland. Directly after the jump from an altitude of 3,000 meters, all three flew in formation in the direction of a mountain massif. With the aid of the electric drive Salzmann accelerated faster than his colleagues and was able to fly across the peak in steep flight. After flying a further curve, he met up with the other two pilots who had flown in glide flight around the mountain. The three wingsuit pilots finally opened their parachutes and landed at the agreed destination.

The wingsuit was initially tested in the wind tunnel at the BMW Group Aerodynamics Testing Centre in Munich, contributing a significant part of the development program for the project. 

Wingsuit flight has existed for many years, the stuff of film and extreme sports. It began gaining mainstream popularity as an extreme sport around the turn of the century, providing adrenaline junkies with an experience like no other. 

You can watch the full journey Salzmann and the development team went through to make this a reality below: 

Author
Mark Anthony Karam

Mark Anthony Karam was an Editor at AMEinfo between 2018-2021. You can get in touch with him on LinkedIn here: linkedin.com/in/m-a-karam/

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