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Real-life ‘superheroes’ fly in the world’s first jet suit race
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From futuristic architecture to pioneering infrastructure, Dubai is no stranger to weird, wonderful, and downright wacky innovation. But on Wednesday, the “City of Superlatives” went full sci-fi when eight pilots, suited and booted like Marvel’s “Iron Man,” took to the skies.

They were not fighting supervillains or alien warlords, though. Against a backdrop of skyscrapers and super yachts, the airborne athletes competed in the inaugural Jet Suit Race Series, an event organized by the Dubai Sports Council and Gravity Industries, the manufacturers of the jet suit.

“Unlike most racing, you’re racing in three dimensions,” says Richard Browning, chief test pilot for UK-based Gravity Industries, which he founded in 2017. “There’s pilots above and below, and all over the place, so it’s a really interesting experience.”

The eight pilots raced around a one-kilometer (0.6-mile) course, maneuvering between 12 giant inflatable obstacles placed in the water. Four heats created a leaderboard that culminated in a final round, with each race only lasting around 90 seconds.

“We had people getting disqualified, we had people losing it, we had somebody go in the water — we had just utter chaos, in a great way,” says Browning.

He hopes that the event will inspire the next generation of scientists and engineers to dream big: “Most technology is ludicrous and impossible until it isn’t.”

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