Skysurfer Ready to Test Jet Wing

 Former MTV Stuntman Troy Hartman ready for Phase 2 of flight testing

Troy Hartman tests his Personal Jetpack as part of Phase 2 testing for his Jet Wing, which will be powered by the two UAV engines that are strapped to his back. Courtesy: Troy Hartman

Do you remember in the late 1990s a Super Bowl ad featuring a goose drinking Pepsi, aerial refueling style from a guy flying next to him, his feet strapped to a snowboard? The ad was the tops for the Super Bowl in 1998 and remains one of the best all-time for Super Bowls ads. By then sky surfing, which is what the man in that ad was doing, was a worldwide sport and Troy Hartman was its champion. 

That stunt led to other commercials and his own show, Senseless Acts of Video, on MTV. Hartman’s exstensive stunt credits include sky surfing stunt double work for George Clooney, Anthony Michael Hall, and David Hasselhoff. But all that derring-do had its price and Hartman eventually moved on from the show as anxiety from all those stunts became a part of his life.

Troy Hartman’s  doubled for George Clooney, and David Hasselhoff among others. Courtesy: Troy Hartman

Now Troy sells real estate in San Diego but in 2008 he started tinkering around with another idea that would take him back into the air. Not just a stunt, but a way to fly like we have always wanted to–like the Rocketeer.

Before that Hartman had dreams being a fighter pilot but ended up dropping out of the Air Force Academy; but that failure set him on a new path to success. Aviation was in his family and he became an aerobatic instructor, earned an engineering degree, and then joined the skysurfing scene in the early 1990s, eventually competing in the X-Games.

Incidentally, MTV was looking to start a Jackass type show in the 1990s and while Johnny Knoxville was under consideration, they couldn’t make it happen due to disagreements over who would own the show. Thats when MTV approached Hartman and while he didn’t want to do Jackass, discussions eventually led to Senseless Acts of Video.

I first talked to Troy Hartman in March 2011 and in preparing for that interview I viewed quite a few clips from his show. The stunts are amazing, like shooting flares at your own parachute so it burns up and jumping out of an exploding ultralight and letting it crash to the ground.

The Rocketeer, at least the Disney version we all love, had a rocket pack strapped to his back and he zipped about the sky. Troy is doing much the same thing with his Jet Wing except he is also using a rigid wing as part of the apparatus since humans just are not aerodynamic enough and the technology required for a rocket pack to steer is well, still in the movie magic stage.

Yves Rossy and his Jet Wing. Courtesy: Uberreview

But its not that far away. There is already one person flying a jet wing.  Yves Rossy, a former Swiss Air Force and airline pilot, has been working toward this technology for years and already has made several successful flights both in Europe and just last year over the Grand Canyon in Arizona.

There are a few differences between the two flying apparatuses. While both are rigid wings, Troy’s original design has two larger UAV engines strapped to his back as opposed to Rossy’s craft where four smaller engines are attached to the wings.

Related: Hear an interview Troy Hartman gave to EAA Radio in 2011.

Troy says he is also developing a design that has the engines mounted under the wings. One other key difference is that Rossy has actual control surfaces that he can move, whereas Hartman will use his body to maneuver the the wing.

Hartman feeds Pepsi to a goose in this 1998 Super Bowl ad.

Last year Troy caught my attention with a video he released of him using his jet pack to ski on a mountain plateau sometimes going uphill. While the video was fun, it had a purpose; to test the engines at high altitude. The video was released in part to help raise funds to continue to develop the jet wing.

Nearly 18 months later Troy has completed the wing and is ready for Phase 2 of the project; flight testing. He is also out with a new video which shows him flying with the jet pack under a parachute canopy called a ” speed wing”, the first time he has tried to fly airborne with the jet pack.

Troy needs to raise some more money to fund the flight testing of the actual wing which will need about 20 non-powered gliding flights before using it with the jet pack. This project differs a lot from his stunt days where the approach to safety may have been the same; but the end result is not some once-in-a-lifetime, firery wow-inducing event.

Instead Troy seems to be working toward something, practicable, sustainable, reuseable, and frankly; pretty frickn’ cool.

The Personal Jetpack is two UAV engines mounted in a backpack. Hartman is also developing a wing-mounted engine design. Courtesy: Troy Hartman


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