A few months back, I saw Jamie Barrow had set the record for the fastest snowboarder and I just knew he had to try my thrusters. I made contact and within a few days, Jamie was in the back garden trying them out and seeing how much thrust they produced. I could tell straight away that Jamie was aiming for something epic and soon he had planned a trip to St Moritz to give the thrusters a blast.
He organised permission to use the frozen lake and we were soon were off in my Mondeo filled with generator, batteries, controllers, loads of spares and, of course, the thrusters. It went well and after a few runs Jamie got 80 km/hr - he wanted 100+, but 80 looked pretty fast.
The most amazing thing to watch is when Jamie had a go in the powder. It just looked the biz as Jamie blasted in and out and carved from side to side while leaving a comet-tail wake of snow mist for people to see from miles away.
Daily Planet from the Discovery Channel in Canada were there to film and feature the trials, you can watch it broadcast on their 4th February 2014 show! A transcript of their questions and my answers are below:
What is it’s official name?
What materials did you use to make it?
Carbonfibre Fans and Blades with Aluminium frame
How much does it weigh?
How much weight will it support?
It’ll generate about 100 to 120 lbs of thrust
What type of batteries are in it, and how many does it use?
Lithium Polymer. 52 Volts with 700 Amps max current (about 35Kilowatts)
How long will a charge run?
About 5 mins at full power
How is it being controlled?
What mechanisms allow it to be controlled?
Can use thumb throttle, but a throttle used in the mouth where you bite it allows both hands to hold on better.
What have been your biggest technical challenges in the engineering process?
Reducing Heat – we work with Schubeler Composites in Germany who make the fans
How does the user slow it down or stop it?
Can twist the pole round 180 degress to get reverse thrust – look pretty impressive.
In very simple terms how does it work – how is the air pushed through the thruster to propel the user?
Very small but powerful electric motors turn carbon fibre fans at very high speed 30000rpm to produce a narrow column of air like a jet engine. The air coming out of the fans is moving at hundreds of miles per hour.
When I was a kid I loved watching “tomorrows world” and the like – never thought I’d be on such a programme!