We’ve been promised jetpacks since the 1950s and dreaming about them even longer. Just hang on a couple more years.
Plenty of time to save the $150,000 it will cost to buy the Martin Jetpack, which promises to be the first practical jetpack ready for vertical liftoff.
The Martin Aircraft Company has been conducting research and development on personal jet packs for a couple of decades. Even before it became a privately funded company, its founder Glenn Martin had been tinkering with the idea of something that can fly longer than 30 seconds since the early 1980s.
The New Zealand company, which won approval from aviation officials in 2013 to conduct manned test flights, will make jetpacks available for first responders some time next year with sales for recreation uses projected to start the year after that, according to the company’s website.
The Martin Jetpack looks more like a midget jet than the sleek backpack of science fiction with its 200 hp engine that drives two ducted fans. Current test models can remain in flight for about 30 minutes and travel at speeds up to 45 miles per hour.
The jetpack has a number of safety features, including a ballistic parachute, a protective structure for the pilot and a landing undercarriage.
Several companies have tried to develop jetpacks but have had trouble keeping them in the air for an extended period of time. The military conducted research on the use of jetpacks but found helicopters more practical.
Astronauts use rocket packs for EVAs (space walks) to maneuver around the International Space Station.