Technion students design Superman suit

Prof. Gil Yossilbesky with a scale model of his students’ gliding suit. Photo: Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.”We wanted to prove that such a suit could be designed, posing no risk to the wearer and having better performance than existing models,” …

Prof. Gil Yossilbesky with a scale model of his students’ gliding suit. Photo: Technion-Israel Institute of Technology.”We wanted to prove that such a suit could be designed, posing no risk to the wearer and having better performance than existing models,” said Yair Segev, one of the suit’s five developers who worked under the supervision of aeronautical and space engineering Prof. Gil Yossilbeski.

Knowing that such an “extreme sport” would require top physical fitness, they sent friends who were in good condition to a gym to get an idea of their physical limitations. “We discovered that some of the loads the wearer could experience were great enough to turn gliding from fun into torture,” Segev said. “After defining the physical limitations of the flier, we built a simple aerodynamic model of a human in a light, winged suit.”

They estimated the size of the wings and tail that would be necessary to ensure stability, as well as how strong they would have to be to stand up to the drag forces they had calculated.

They next tested a model in a wind tunnel, where they found that flying in a “Superman” position would be impossible due to drag. After about 100 trials, they refined their original design into what they believe to be the perfect model and fed the resulting data into a flight-simulator program.

“Using this, we tried to work out what a person dropped from a plane to fly in our suit would experience, and how much he would have to sweat to carry out simple maneuvers,” Segev said.

They reached the conclusion that while only a professional pilot would be able to use the suit, he could go much farther with it than with conventional gliding suits.

The other students working on the project are Yoav Green, Yefim Yablochkin, Leon Mintz, Omer Ne’eman and Roman Levin.

Printed by courtesy of The Jerusalem Post.