bmw1
More info i
Credit: BMW Designworks

Up, up, and away! BMW Designworks' first electric wingsuit can fly up to 186 mph

Contributed by
Nov 11, 2020, 10:05 PM EST

Ask most anyone what their superpower would be if given the gift, and the majority of daring wishmakers would choose the power of flight.

So it's with great promise that BMW Designworks has partnered up with Austrian stuntman Peter Salzmann to unveil a wicked-cool new electric powered wingsuit that can propel a brave human being up to speeds nearing 200 miles-per-hour, and thus zipping ahead of almost any feathered friend in the sky... at least for a few minutes.

The lofty coming-out party was all part of a promotional event to help draw attention to the debut of the new BMW iX3 electric vehicle. But the soaring exhibition may have made millions of people rethink their stance on wanting to blast off into the wild blue yonder to experience the thrill of flying. 

Check out the wild ride below:

Over the years since non-powered wingsuits first hit the extreme sports scene, Salzmann had pondered over how to infuse wingsuits with sustainable propulsion and the ability to climb. He teamed up with engineers and creative consultants at BMW's Designworks studio to create a pair of chest-mounted electric impellers and a special wingsuit that would utilize them.

Realizing that the optimum airflow would exist in front of the suit, and not behind, Salzmann and the BMW crew pivoted to this front-end arrangement employing two 5-inch, 25,000 rpm impellers inside an aerodynamic, economical air-inlet package that mirrors the legendary German automotive firm's aesthetic sensibilities.

For safety measures, there is a dedicated on/off switch to fire it up, a two-finger throttle device, a minimal steering component, and an instant cutoff switch for emergency situations, like encountering a flock of wild geese leisurely flying south for the winter.

Credit: BMW Designworks

While not built for extended flights, but short hops instead, the suit's propellers pump out approximately 20 horsepower for roughly five minutes, far superior than a standard wingsuit, whose horizontal glide rate falls one meter for every three meters traveled horizontally. Non-powered wingsuits max out at about 62 mph, but when Salzmann punches the electric boost, he can attain speeds over 186 mph, in addition to gaining altitude instead of gradually losing it.

Following a series of successful wind tunnel tests at BMW's facilities, then in a customized wingsuiting wind tunnel in Stockholm, and finally a few dozen test jumps, the team decided a full public demonstration was in order using the skyscrapers of Busan, Korea. The ongoing pandemic ended those dreams, so they pivoted to the Austrian Alps, specifically the ominous Del Brüder peaks in the Hohe Tauern mountain range. 

Credit: BMW Designworks

There, as seen in the amazing promo video above, Salzmann and two friends sporting standard wingsuits all got to the chopper and took the plunge from 10,000 feet, with Salzmann staying in formation, then surging forward in a solo streak where he zoomed up and over the jagged peak.

Whether this sleek electrically-charged wingsuit might become an actual consumer product someday remains to be seen, but it would sure make a sweet Christmas gift under the tree for the thrill-seeking adventurer on your gift list!