×

Welcome to the Slashdot Beta site -- learn more here. Use the link in the footer or click here to return to the Classic version of Slashdot.

Thank you!

Before you choose to head back to the Classic look of the site, we'd appreciate it if you share your thoughts on the Beta; your feedback is what drives our ongoing development.

Beta is different and we value you taking the time to try it out. Please take a look at the changes we've made in Beta and  learn more about it. Thanks for reading, and for making the site better!

Rocketman Crosses Colorado Gorge

samzenpus posted more than 5 years ago | from the up-up-and-away dept.

Technology 71

nandemoari writes "Remember the 1991 film, 'The Rocketeer,' where a young pilot uses a jetpack prototype to become a masked vigilante and win the heart of Jennifer Connelly? That scenario isn't as far-fetched as it once was, given that an American stuntman recently used a jetpack to soar over Colorado's Royal Gorge. The stuntman in question is one Eric Scott, who recently appeared on CBS' Early Show and a variety of local cable channels after making his daring leap. Scott has been testing jetpack devices for 16 years, and was confident that he wouldn't plummet to his untimely death when he straddled the Gorge above the Arkansas River earlier this week. Despite an enormous gulf between the two sides — 1,500 feet across and 1,000 feet down — Scott made the trip safely."

cancel ×
This is a preview of your comment

No Comment Title Entered

Anonymous Coward 1 minute ago

No Comment Entered

71 comments

No parachute (4, Informative)

Pinckney (1098477) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906613)

Note that he didn't wear a parachute. He's been doing this for years, apparently without serious mishaps, so I suppose he had reason to be confident.

Re:No parachute (4, Funny)

ChinggisK (1133009) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906685)

Note that he did, however, wear a helmet, which I'm sure would've totally saved him from the 1000ft fall.

Re:No parachute (3, Interesting)

testadicazzo (567430) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906835)

hahahah

No, but it would save him from head trauma in the event of a failure during take-off or landing, which is probably the reason behind it.

Re:No parachute (1)

McGuirk (1189283) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907045)

Honestly, I'd guess it was for the wind visor, I bet there's a pretty bad draft that high/fast.

Re:No parachute (1)

Pitr (33016) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907533)

Note that in the picture, the helmet is open. The helmet is probably mainly for insurance purposes.

Re:No parachute (5, Funny)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908689)

The helmet is probably mainly for insurance purposes.

I'd imagine it's already pretty difficult getting insurance to fly over a gorge with a rocketpack.

Re:No parachute (3, Insightful)

TheLink (130905) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906855)

He would need to get close to the ground to land. Doesn't take a high drop to crack the skull.

So presumably that's where the helmet might come in handy.

Maybe he's confident of not making a big mistake, but not so confident he won't make a small slip up on landing.

Re:No parachute (4, Informative)

Swizec (978239) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908441)

Take-off and landing ARE afterall the dangerous parts of every flight. Once you're up there, if nothing else, you at least have time to react when something goes wrong. When landing or taking-off that ground thing that can hurt you is less than a second away.

Re:No parachute (1)

BLAG-blast (302533) | more than 5 years ago | (#25910781)

Once you're up there, if nothing else, you at least have time to react when something goes wrong.

Like when you get sucked into a jet engine.

iwantoneforchristmas (3, Funny)

neokushan (932374) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906687)

Goes without saying really, but iwantoneforchristmas.

Re:iwantoneforchristmas (1)

maxume (22995) | more than 5 years ago | (#25909051)

It's expensive, dangerous and nearly completely useless.

Party balloons full of gasoline have all the same advantages without being expensive.

Re:iwantoneforchristmas (1)

Kam Solusar (974711) | more than 5 years ago | (#25909775)

Party balloons full of gasoline have all the same advantages without being expensive.

I think Boba Fett would disagree.

hydrogen peroxide? (1)

ILuvRamen (1026668) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906705)

hydrogen peroxide, huh? Does that react with something or what? They didn't really say. I wonder if you can just dump in more and take off again. That'd be cool! Plus, that stuff's cheap in large amounts.

Re:hydrogen peroxide? (5, Informative)

dexmachina (1341273) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906737)

Hydrogen peroxide naturally decomposes into water and oxygen gas: 2(H2O2) -> 2(H2O) + O2 but it's a very slow reaction. But, throw in a catalyst like silver and it happens in milliseconds. It's a highly exothermic reaction, so at those rates, it actually produces oxygen gas and superheated steam, which is directed through a nozzle. The catalyst isn't used up, so yes you could just refuel and take off again, though the equipment probably needs time to cool down.

Re:hydrogen peroxide? (1)

hesaigo999ca (786966) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908301)

Could he not used liquid nitrogen to cool the hardware down, like a computer does a cpu?

Re:hydrogen peroxide? (1)

HTH NE1 (675604) | more than 5 years ago | (#25911851)

Could he not used liquid nitrogen to cool the hardware down, like a computer does a cpu?

Only overclockers do that. Liquid cooling systems don't use liquid nitrogen.

And you'd only use it during operation, and only if you can maintain the temperature. You try cooling a hot tank rapidly with liquid nitrogen, you're likely to crack the tank. Remember Alien^3?

Try dumping liquid nitrogen in your car's radiator after it has overheated in the middle of the desert (but not without prearranging alternate transport).

Re:hydrogen peroxide? (2, Interesting)

Glonoinha (587375) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908437)

I wouldn't be surprised to read that the jetpack he is using is based strongly on the engine that powered the ME-163. The 'fuel tank' consisted of two bladders - one full of concentrated hydrogen peroxide and the other full of high grade methanol.

Actually wikipedia says that the first component wasn't H202 but N2H4 - but I'm skeptical. I've always heard it was concentrated peroxide, and lab experiments I've seen support that theory.

Regardless - back in WWII the biggest threat to the ME163 pilots wasn't getting shot down by other planes, it was having their fuel cells leak this stuff into the plane (which would dissolve the pilot - nasty stuff.)

Re:hydrogen peroxide? (1)

smellsofbikes (890263) | more than 5 years ago | (#25912641)

You can make a reasonable rocket using just hydrogen peroxide, as long as the concentration is over about 70%, because there's enough heat given off when it breaks down to vaporize all the H2O2 and all the water making up the rest of the volume.
You can add some sort of fuel, if you want, and it increases the specific impulse, but it also greatly increases the complexity. You can't pre-mix the fuel and oxidizer for fear of it exploding, so you have to figure out how to do fuel injection. Traditionally, you pressurize the H2O2 with high-pressure nitrogen or argon and just have a valve between that and the reaction chamber where the silver gauze lives, so the whole control system consists of a valve. Open it and off you go. If you have fuel, you have to figure out how to meter it proportionally to the H2O2 flow, have it pressurized as well or have pumps for it, all sorts of complexities, so it's a lot of complexity for not a huge increase in thrust. The Me163 designers thought it was worth it, but they had a lot more weight budget (and they weren't flying the planes.)

I believe most 'jetpacks' and 'rocketpacks' have been based on peroxide decomposition, in part because the exhaust comes out at several hundred degrees, rather than several thousand, and there's no flame involved, so you don't have to worry about the asbestos trousers (as much).

Re:hydrogen peroxide? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906791)

"hydrogen peroxide, huh? Does that react with something or what?"

Catalytic decomposition, I would guess. Simple and reliable, like the hydrazine RCS thrusters on spacecrafts.

Re:hydrogen peroxide? (2, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907269)

"hydrogen peroxide, huh? Does that react with something or what?"

Catalytic decomposition, I would guess. Simple and reliable, like the hydrazine RCS thrusters on spacecrafts.

RCS exhaust is lethal to unprotected humans. At normal shuttle landing sites huge fans are used to blow gas away from the orbiter before any seals are cracked. At emergency landing sites ground crews are briefed to keep clear of the spacecraft.

Eric Scott is still alive so this is not like the RCS system on a spacecraft.

Re:hydrogen peroxide? (3, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907515)

...and that is precisely why they are using hydrogen peroxide instead of hydrazine or one of its derivates, even though hydrazine has a higher energy density and, at the same time, it is less corrosive and can be stored for an extended period of time. But the principle of the thruster is the same - catalytic decomposition of a monopropellant. What exactly does it make it "not like the RCS system on a spacecraft", other than the choice of the monopropellant?

Re:hydrogen peroxide? (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907561)

What exactly does it make it "not like the RCS system on a spacecraft", other than the choice of the monopropellant?

The Apollo RCS uses Nitrogen Tetroxide and Unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine [wikipedia.org] . This mixture burns on contact so no ignition system is needed. Both components are very dangerous to handle.

Re:hydrogen peroxide? (1)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908089)

I missed the part where I am talking about Apollo. And almost all rocket fuels are very dangerous to handle, including hydrogen peroxide, so what exactly is the point? Especially when all I was mentioning was the mechanical simplicity of a monopropellant thruster.

Re:hydrogen peroxide? (4, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907625)

Like != identical to.

A hydrogen peroxide jet is a monopropellant thruster: all you need is the H202 and a catalyst, which isn't used up. Hydrazine thrusters come in two forms, monopropellant and bipropellant. The monopropellant type is a lot like an H202 jet, and the exhaust is ammonia, nitrogen and hydrogen.

The bipropellant form mixes hydrazine and N204, which is hypergolic - it ignites itself. The exhaust is nitrogen, carbon dioxide and water. The concern with hydrazine thrusters is leaking, unburned hydrazine, not the reaction products.

Re:hydrogen peroxide? (1)

v1 (525388) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908715)

RCS exhaust is lethal to unprotected humans. At normal shuttle landing sites huge fans are used to blow gas away from the orbiter before any seals are cracked.

That's one of the big things I remember from the first space shuttle flight was seeing them put giant fans by the orbiter after it landed, for what seemed like ages, before anyone got out. I always wondered what they were so worried about needing to blow off the shuttle.

Re:hydrogen peroxide? (2, Insightful)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906807)

hydrogen peroxide, huh? Does that react with something or what?

Good old catalytic decomposition, I would guess. Simple and reliable, like the hydrazine RCS thrusters on spacecrafts.

Re:hydrogen peroxide? (1)

bill_mcgonigle (4333) | more than 5 years ago | (#25920161)

Good old catalytic decomposition, I would guess. Simple and reliable, like the hydrazine RCS thrusters on spacecrafts.

Yeah, there's a silver mesh it's pumped across. One of my many childhood engineering experiments that never came to fruition.

Safe? Not without a parachute!!! (2, Interesting)

syousef (465911) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906725)

Can't a parachute be strapped on the front or something? This guy made it across without being harmed, but I would hardly refer to such an activity as safe. No redundancy = not safe.

Re:Safe? Not without a parachute!!! (2, Informative)

K. S. Kyosuke (729550) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907011)

There is a certain minimal altitude below which the parachute is quite useless. Under controlled conditions, you can jump even from comparatively low towers, but this jetpack most likely is not designed to climb into that altitude. Perhaps flying horizontally over a canyon as in this case *could* make this difference, but if this device fails when you are 200 feet above the ground, you are screwed.

Re:Safe? Not without a parachute!!! (3, Informative)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907483)

There is a certain minimal altitude below which the parachute is quite useless.

Hang glider pilots carry ballistic parachutes which eject themselves from a container and open at the end of a tether. That way you only fall far enough to inflate the canopy. A parachute like that could work from 100 feet or so.

The rocket here seems pretty reliable but I would worry about a control system failure.

Re:Safe? Not without a parachute!!! (2, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907661)

As a hang glider pilot, below a few hundred feet your reserve is worse than useless. The canopy just doesn't inflate fast enough to make any difference.

This guy was over a 1000 foot canyon, so if he threw a parachute in the middle it might help, but the things don't really steer so he'd probably just end up hitting the wall and falling anyway.

Re:Safe? Not without a parachute!!! (2, Interesting)

Inzite (472846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907783)

BASE jumpers jump from the Royal Gorge annually at the Go-Fast games. A parachute (round or ram-air) would almost certainly have helped in case of malfunction.

Re:Safe? Not without a parachute!!! (2, Informative)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#25910147)

BASE jumping is a special case where your parachute deployment is very carefully orchestrated and your parachute is also carefully designed to be steered. Plus you're not carrying a heavy, malfunctioning jetpack on your back. Even then, BASE jumpers frequently crash into things.

A BASE jumper deploying his chute from a stationary position on the edge of the gorge is a bit different from this guy, ten senconds into his flight (and ten seconds from landing) realizing he's got a problem and deploying a chute in mid air in the middle of the gorge, at 80 miles an hour.

Re:Safe? Not without a parachute!!! (2, Interesting)

Inzite (472846) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907777)

I'd wager the reason a parachute wasn't used is because of the added weight. Even a simple one-canopy reserve adds 6 or 7 pounds. Also, there's not as much of a "cool" factor to the crossing if it's done with a chest-mount reserve.

I can't comment on round-canopy reserve rigs, but modern 7-cell BASE canopies can be inflated enough to prevent death in well below 50 feet (dependent upon airspeed - at terminal velocity, this figure increases to around 100 feet).

These jetpacks are very tricky to fly, however. It's very easy to put yourself in an uncontrollable and unrecoverable spin, and if it happens it'll happen in mere tenths of a second. Also, because you're constantly burning fuel and getting lighter, the pilot has to be constantly easing up on the throttle to avoid rocketing off into the stratosphere.

I've heard rumors one of the pilots from Red Bull is considering doing exactly this; he believes that he could reach 2000 feet or so within 25-30 seconds, and then deploy a BASE canopy.

Re:Safe? Not without a parachute!!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25907237)

By that logic you're gonna need a lot more then a parachute. You know, for all those random fireballs that fall from the sky.

Re:Safe? Not without a parachute!!! (1)

MichaelSmith (789609) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907271)

Can't a parachute be strapped on the front or something? This guy made it across without being harmed, but I would hardly refer to such an activity as safe. No redundancy = not safe.

I noticed that he stayed fairly close to the bridge. Maybe he planned to turn right as an alternative to doing a Homer.

Re:Safe? Not without a parachute!!! (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908989)

Can't a parachute be strapped on the front or something?

Wikipedia sez: *(http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jet_pack )

A consequence of the short flight time of any peroxide-based pack is that the entire flight is below the minimum parachute altitude. Accordingly, any loss of control or failure of the pack is most likely fatal.

Re:Safe? Not without a parachute!!! (1)

A nonymous Coward (7548) | more than 5 years ago | (#25909997)

TFA says he flew over a deep deep gorge.

Why did you go to all the trouble of finding that in wikipedia when you could have RTFA much more quickly?

Re:Safe? Not without a parachute!!! (2, Informative)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 5 years ago | (#25911315)

TFA says he flew over a deep deep gorge. Why did you go to all the trouble of finding that in wikipedia when you could have RTFA much more quickly?

Most of the flights he makes are not over deep gorges. So clearly this is not part of his normal equipment. Since every other flight he makes would kill him if the equipment fails, and he makes far more flights not over gorges than over gorges, what is the sense for him to add a parachute for only this one fight.

Movie? (2, Informative)

wvmarle (1070040) | more than 5 years ago | (#25906921)

Anyone got a movie of this stunt? Sounds really cool, would be even cooler to actually see him doing it.

average speed of 180mph!! (1, Funny)

lkcl (517947) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907263)

geeez, what's not mentioned explicitly is the implpications of the fact that he managed to cross the 1500 feet - 1 mile - in 21 seconds.

that's an *average* speed of 180mph!

dang.

Re:average speed of 180mph!! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25907279)

5200 feet = 1 mile.

Try asking Google [google.com] next time.

Re:average speed of 180mph!! (3, Insightful)

theM_xl (760570) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907531)

Google says [google.com] you got it wrong too.

Silly Americans, switch to metric already :D

Re:average speed of 180mph!! (1)

ceoyoyo (59147) | more than 5 years ago | (#25907695)

Not being an American I'm not exactly sure what a mile is, nor a foot, but units says there are 5280 feet in a mile, not 1500.

Re:average speed of 180mph!! (1)

indi0144 (1264518) | more than 5 years ago | (#25911019)

A Mile it's about 1500 meters so I guess the error comes from that odd metric system, not everyone easily adapt to singularity (or have to).

Re:average speed of 180mph!! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25965415)

Actually, a mile is closer to 1609 meters...

Try 68mph average (1)

Presence1 (524732) | more than 5 years ago | (#25916953)

If you look at the video (http://abcnews.go.com/Video/playerIndex?id=6323927 beware of stupid advert first), you will see that he takes about 15sec to cross the gorge, and 6 sec hovering to land.

This is about 100feet/sec, or about 68mpg. I wouldn't be surprised if his peak speed were close to 100mph.

This does not mean I'm any less impressed with the technology or the stunt, I just like to get the figures right also.

Eric Scott != Rocketman (3, Insightful)

DynaSoar (714234) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908109)

Eric's a fine stunt specialist with a lot of experience and his jetpack work goes way beyond regular stunt work. But there is a stuntman who rightfully earned and uses the name "Rocketman", and it's not Eric Scott. The real Rocketman built many stunt devices, including Evel Knievel's. He also headed the team to build and fly the first amateur rocket to cross the internationally accepted altitude defining "space". Of course he's not going to fault Eric for the press's inevitable use of the name "Rocketman" -- they do it every chance they get. But these other guys get called that and then that name forgotten. But Ky Michaelson http://www.the-rocketman.com/rocketmanhist.html [the-rocketman.com] remains THE Rocketman.

Re:Eric Scott != Rocketman (1)

Geoffrey.landis (926948) | more than 5 years ago | (#25908971)

Eric's a fine stunt specialist with a lot of experience and his jetpack work goes way beyond regular stunt work. But there is a stuntman who rightfully earned and uses the name "Rocketman", and it's not Eric Scott.

No, "Rocket Man" is a song by Elton John.

(also a short story by Ray Bradbury)

Re:Eric Scott != Rocketman (1)

doom (14564) | more than 5 years ago | (#25930967)

No, "Rocket Man" is a song by Elton John.

Memorably covered by William Shatner.

(Hey Geoffrey.)

Fuck that (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25914357)

I acknowledge the guy's accomplishments. I can't see how we can expect a two-noun combination (one of which is -man) to be reserved for him, though.

Examples to show the idiocy: Seaman, airman, rifleman, [...]

In other words: If you hide under an outhouse, expect to be shat upon.

More of a stunt than an achievement. (1)

w0mprat (1317953) | more than 5 years ago | (#25910827)

But getting there slowly right? We will have our jetpacks one day! The rocket pack used reportedly has a 45 second flight time, the gorge crossing took 20 seconds.

Its not a jet pack exactly but the Martin Jetpack is one you will be able to buy, and has a flight time in the range of hours... and runs on gasoline.

linkage: http://www.martinjetpack.com/ [martinjetpack.com]

I'll park it next to my Moller flying car. This technology should be available be available in the late 90's, right after the manned mars missions.

Not so far-fetched? (1)

David Nabbit (924807) | more than 5 years ago | (#25913945)

Wait, a guy using a jetpack to fly over a gorge makes him a small step away from being a masked vigilante and winning the heart of Jennifer Connelly?

Impressive or not! (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25914467)

Despite an enormous gulf between the two sides â" 1,500 feet across and 1,000 feet down

not so much flyin' as plummetin'!

courtesy Monty Python.

MGS3 quote (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#25915087)

Now he "Feel[s] the fury of being alive !"

Check for New Comments
Slashdot Account

Need an Account?

Forgot your password?

Don't worry, we never post anything without your permission.

Submission Text Formatting Tips

We support a small subset of HTML, namely these tags:

  • b
  • i
  • p
  • br
  • a
  • ol
  • ul
  • li
  • dl
  • dt
  • dd
  • em
  • strong
  • tt
  • blockquote
  • div
  • quote
  • ecode

"ecode" can be used for code snippets, for example:

<ecode>    while(1) { do_something(); } </ecode>
Sign up for Slashdot Newsletters
Create a Slashdot Account

Loading...