This is not a joke; it’s a jetpack. Well, maybe it’s a joke, but it’s definitely a jetpack. More specifically, the object at hand is a wing that can be attached to a sort of backpack worn by the skydivers Yves Rossy and Vince Reffet. The wing is equipped with multiple small engines that can propel the attached human through the air. (Is he a vehicle or a passenger?)
In the short film Young Feathers, Rossy and Reffet are seen carving up the airspace above Dubai. They jump out the door of a helicopter and reach new heights, soaring in tightly synchronized patterns. Rife with vibrant colours and elegant compositions, Young Feathers is beautifully shot. Rossy and Reffet swoop over bright red dunes, as if to suggest that the landscape had been shaped by their jets’ trails. In the closing scenes, the pair streak over Dubai, spiraling around buildings and shooting off into the distance.
Young Feathers is an impressive feat that comes across as somewhat laughable. What else is to be made of a flashback with a young child playing with a toy plane as one of the now-grown pilots talks about following dreams? It’s all a bit much. Presented in this light, with Dubai tattooed across their wings, these jetpacks come across as luxury playthings, not technical innovations. They are the jet skis of the sky. As Rossy and Reffet elegantly dance across the sky and later strut diligently onto a military cargo plane, it becomes clear that Young Feathers’ stylized—and stylish—rugged masculinity isn’t about high flight; it’s high camp.