Step right up — you can now get your very own jetpack. That’s right, a real, not-science-fiction-honest-to-goodness jetpack. New Zealander Glenn Martin has been working on perfecting his jetpack for 30 years, and in 1998 created the Martin Aircraft Company to develop and market his idea. Now, the jetpack has become a reality. The 200-horsepower, dual-propeller is designed to fly average-sized person for 48 km (30 miles) in 30 minutes on 18 liters (5 gallons) of gas. The newest model can also reach heights of 2,400 meters (about 1.5 miles). Price? $100,000. “They are a helluva lot of fun to fly,” said Martin.
Jetpacks have gone beyond being a science-fiction icon to become part of our cultural mind-set, and are such a powerful idea that several people have tried to develop them. The first serious attempts were instigated by the US military in the 1950s. The idea was to build an ultimate ‘all terrain vehicle’ to move military commanders around a battlefield. The Bell Rocket Belt was the most successful and first flew in 1961. But it only flew for 26 seconds.
Glenn Martin said he wanted to build a jetpack that could beat the 30 second mark, and beyond. He first developed his concept in 1981 based on a mathematical formula he came up with to determine what type of engine and thrust would be needed. In 2005, the 9th prototype achieved sustained flight times, laying the foundation for a viable and successful pre-production prototype to be developed.
Martin’s jetpack sounds like motorcycle or lawn mower. Since the jetpacks weigh less than 254 pounds, they don’t require a pilot’s license to fly. However, they must be flown under federal aviation regulations because it is powered by a piston driven engine. Martin says that buyers will be required to go through training before taking to the skies. The jetpack is also equipped with a low-altitude emergency parachute.
Those who have tested the jetpack say that with only the controls in front of you, flying a jetpack is a real free-flight experience.
The jetpacks should be ready for distribution later this year. Check out the Martin Jetpack website for more details.
Or check out the company’s You Tube site for videos of the jetpack.