Rugzakvlucht 4KW



Object, 71 x 73 x 52 cm (plinth: 100 x 40 x 45 cm).
Materials: mixed media

Collection: Stad Antwerpen, in langdurige bruikleen in M HKA.

Panamarenko (1940-2019) is one of the most remarkable Belgian artists of the second half of the twentieth century. His work combines art and technology in the form of poetic and ingenious rigs and constructions. In 1984 he coined the name ‘Rucksackflug’ for the Flying-Backpacks-project he had in mind. A number of drawings from 1972 already show propeller-driven harnesses representing a flying backpack, but it is not until 1984 that he proceeds to implement them. The intention is to build a compact but highly efficient aircraft that will allow the pilot to land and take off anywhere, whether in the mountains or in the city.

The aircraft Rugzakvlucht 4KW, along with the Groene Rugzak, belongs to one of his very first experimental rigs to make an air jump with hands free. The weight of the aircraft is carried by the shoulders and back, which are also responsible for manoeuvrability. The motor and propeller are mounted in the body of the backpack, with finely deflected air channels to divert the propellers' produced thrust downward. To maintain balance, the airflow should remain the same on both sides of the body. The propulsion mechanism of backpack planes has continued to evolve over the years (propellers, pastille motors, flying or paddle wheels), as has the housing, which ranges from epoxy, bakelite and makrolon to balsa wood and fiberglass.

In total, the artist manufactures a dozen or so backpacks, all of which fall under the original title Portable Air Transport (his first design for a portable air device from 1969). In execution, the helicopter Rugzakvlucht 4KW, also called the ‘Zilveren Rugzak’, is as robustly built as it is elegantly presented.

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