Gryphon winged suit drops in for some serious air time


December 8, 2009

The Gryphon winged suit has a 5:1 glide ratio, electronic guidance system and heads-up display

The Gryphon winged suit has a 5:1 glide ratio, electronic guidance system and heads-up display

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Are you were waiting for a good reason to join the armed forces? Perhaps you are just a kid who always dreamed of flying and never grew up, or maybe you are thinking of challenging Yves (Jetman) Rossy in the human winged flight game? This could be the opportunity you’ve been waiting for. Get ready to duck … the Gryphon Next Generation Parachute System could be headed your way. Although engine-less, the Gryphon still has an electronic guidance system and heads-up display navigation and all equipment is cleverly tucked away making for better “stealth” flights.

Aimed at the military, this high-tech human gliding device allows parachutists to leap from planes and glide in any chosen direction (except up) at speeds around 60mph - a somewhat conservative speed suggested by the manufacturers - SPELCO (Special Parachute and Logistics Consortium).

Presently, a parachute is used to stop and drop a flier to the ground or at his target but SPELCO says it plans to develop a version that can be landed by itself.

The consortium, comprising two German companies, produces a variety of parachute systems, helmets, oxygen supplies and other gear and services. But the Gryphon Next Generation Parachute System is what has pricked most people’s interest.

SPELCO says the Gryphon system is designed for use in “high-altitude, high-opening” jump missions, typically carried out by Special Forces. This 6ft wing delivers great maneuverability with a glide ratio of 5:1, which means if you step out at five miles high (26,000ft), you can glide for 25 miles.

According to the consortium the suit performed over 50 test flights back in 2006 and it says the next step is to look at mounting small engines (as Yves Rossy does) which would increase its mission range, speed … and possibilities!

No response yet from SPELCO on when this might actually happen.


Surely increasing the wingspan (lift) would be more economic and effective than increasing the thrust (attaching an engine)?

Gruph Norgle

I think invisibility is one of the pluses of this parachute system,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,I know the British SAS use chutes in the hours of darkness ( not this system )small and fast keeps you in a low profile


Dumb idea... not enough glide ratio. Need BIGGER wings.

Still while loafing through the sky like fat genetically modified blimp geese, they would make for great long range target practice.

I am told blimp geese taste like pork - when roasted.

Mr Stiffy

Increasing the wingspan is a bad idea because it makes you extremely easy to see, the engine that would be put on the glider won\'t put off hardly any emissions, and I\'d like to see you shoot something thats 200 yards to a mile away moving at 60 mph. Not to mention the people using this system will probably be special forces, which means it\'ll most likely be a halo jump which is done around 30,000 feet, and it\'ll be at night so they wont be seen anyway.


You gotta be kidding! Not enough glide ratio. Need BIGGER wings.

Facebook User

Nothing says \"surprise\" quite like a HALO. Zoom, Boom. Trash ready for pick up.


Getting closer to Starship Troopers by RAH.


When you say, \"But the Gryphon Next Generation Parachute System is what has pricked most people%u2019s interest\"; don\'t you mean piqued? I would hate to have my interest pricked. /Fail

Jonathan Carcopo

5:1 is plenty, gives much greater cross range than normal HALO jump. These wings get the jumper much further from the jump point before he dumps the wings and deploys his chute. So, from 30,000 ft a jumper could be 25 miles from his jump point before he even deploys his chute- great for entering a country from outside it\'s borders or putting jump plane out of the reach of AA. You kids can get back to your Xbox, leave the thinking to engineers.


I wonder what the pilot does with their hands during flight?

Raymond Johnson

Play patience, pick their nose, read the inflight magazine... you know, the usual stuff.

Jason Catterall

@taurusaero the kids better practise how to hit that goddamn squirrel at a distance ^^


ummm... no Buzz Lightyear references yet?

I side on \"this is cool/good idea\" great for getting distance between plane exit and landing area. good luck trying to track something that small. One question, what is done with the suit once landed? I would assume that this would be used for insertion into hostile territory, so does the thing self destruct? or is it intended to be reusable? I can\'t imagine it gets dragged along on the mission (LOL).

What other uses could this thing have I wonder.


Jeff Kunkler

I\'ve been working on a competing design for about ten years and what taurusaero says about the glide ratio is dead on. One could improve the stealth characteristics by going with a thinner wing, but it would have to fly faster (or reduce range). The addition of an engine to increase the speed will negate the stealth advantages gained by going with the thinner, stealthier wing. Any more wingspan and it would also be far tougher to deploy out the back of a Herc. There is no free lunch.

With pilots on tanked air there is almost no limit to the altitude from which it can be deployed until you have to address tank weight, so you can cover a lot of ground in that 5:1 until tank weight becomes an issue.

re: \"what do they do with their hands\" One of the curious things about this design is that it places your hands down by your side and that the flight controls are reversed. It doesn\'t matter much to the grunts training on it because they learn to fly it that way, but it has been a big problem in designing it to evacuate pilots - it\'s thought they will tend to roll it right after separation.

Aero Tech

hmmm, why don\'t they use the Fly suit technique? It seem to work much better in a way of wings. I.e. you don\'t have to lose them during the landing...

Kirill Belousov
Take the human from the center and replace him with a robot. High tech delivery of a high tech warrior is a much better idea. It has the advantage of not having to care for a permanently damaged soldier for sixty years after his gallant sacrifice. Jim Sadler

A FlySuit would be interesting, like those crazy dudes in Finland, and dear GOD I wish I were young enough to be that crazy. However, the last time I was at 30,000 feet was in a jet airliner, where the indicated exterior temperature is like Manitoboba in winter on steroids, so the jumper would need some extra insulation. And the winged apparatus should be designed to carry cargo like weapons, ammo, and survival/recon gear. Maybe the wing could have with some of those whale bumps on he leading edge for longer glide and less noise.

Bruce H. Anderson
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