A practical jetpack (finally) takes off

Martin JetPack P12

Jetpacks have been a staple of science fiction and movies for decades. Remember James Bond’s flight in Thunderball? However, these older designs had a number of drawbacks: they couldn’t fly very far or very long and they were difficult to control. If you wanted a jetpack, you’d be better be a daredevil stunt pilot. Until now.

The Martin Jetpack, developed by a plucky 13-employee company in Christchurch, New Zealand has built and tested a practical jetpack.It is much easier to control and heralds the age of a practical everyday jetpack.

The company is equipping its existing prototype with an improved engine and building a second prototype to accelerate testing. The company has received authorisation from the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority to carry out manned flight tests and has classified the jetpack as a Class 1 microlight aircraft.

Instead of using dangerous hydrogen peroxide fuel, the Martin JetPack uses twin ducted fan engines powered by more a conventional V4 two-stroke engine generating 200 horsepower.

When the design is fully mature it promises an endurance of more than 30 minutes, at speeds up to 74 km/h and altitudes about 800 feet. It does come with one James Bond-style feature: a parachute for emergencies.


(This article first appeared on my Forbes Aviator column)


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A man in a hot air balloon realises he is lost

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost.

He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, “Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am.”

The woman below replied, “You are in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You are between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude.”

“You must be an engineer,” said the balloonist.

“I am,” replied the woman, “How did you know?”

“Well,” answered the balloonist, “everything you told me is technically correct, but I have no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I am still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help so far.”

The woman below responded, “You must be in management.”

“I am,” replied the balloonist, “but how did you know?”

“Well,” said the woman, “you don’t know where you are or where you are going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise which you have no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault!”

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Best of the Web

Lost in the Bowels of LHR. What commercial pilot Alan Cockrell hates about London’s Heathrow might actually surprise you – unless you are a commercial pilot! Click here to read his post on DecisionHeight to find out more.

The Last RAF Vickers VC10 Retires to Surrey. The BBC, Harborough Mail and ThisIsLeicestershire.co.uk all have articles about the last Vickers VC10 built in the UK being flown to a Surrey airfield after being retired from RAF service. The RAF operated 28 VC10s for 47 years with the last aircraft to be put on display at Dunsfold Park.

easyJet Denies Boarding to a Passenger Who Tweeted a Complaint. In an odd story, a lecturer who sent a tweet complaining about easyJet after his flight from Glasgow to London was delayed was subsequently denied boarding. An easyJet spokesman said: “EasyJet has never denied boarding due to comments on social media.” However, the airline also tweeted an apology to Leiser.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Perfect Accessory for a Pilot’s Car. Want to show the world that you are a pilot? Get a Carprop, a free spinning propeller that mounts on the front of a car or truck and spins as the car moves. Mounting hardware is included and it installs in minutes while the base can be painted to match your vehicle color (optional). For more information, visit Carprop.com.

Stunning Alaska Photos. The Alaska Dispatch has posted a gallery of stunning photographs taken by a bush pilot flying through Lake Clark Pass from the Cook Inlet to a magnificent lake some 100 air miles into Southwest Alaska:


CAA Guidance on Sky Lantern Releases. In 2011/2012, there were 186 formal notifications of events made to the CAA where over 14,000 sky lanterns, sometimes known as Chinese lanterns, were released. However, the CAA recommended that 30 of these events should not take place due to their proximity to airports. The CAA is also reminding organisers that they must notify the CAA so they can warn airspace users of the possibility of encountering the lanterns in a given area.

Rarest Stamp Error in US History Commemorated. Finally and to celebrate the opening of the William H. Gross Gallery at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum and promote October as National Stamp Collecting Month, the US Postal Service has dedicated a new $2 version of the most publicized stamp error in US history today: The 24-cent 1918 Curtiss Jenny Inverted airmail stamp. Strangely, the original stamp was created to honor the first airmail flight where the pilot got lost, flew in the wrong direction and crashed while a printing error depicted the biplane as flying upside down. The Inverted Jenny souvenir sheet is available at USPS.com/Stamps.

GolfHotelWhiskey.com - 24-cent Curtiss Jenny airmail stamp

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Aircraft colliding with cows

We have mentioned stories or incidents involving emus, dogs, rabbits, wild pigs, turtles, deer, a bull and even cat fish running, hopping or slithering across runways, but there have been several strange incidents involving cows which we noted earlier this year with General Aviation News mentioning yet another cow mishap.

To recap the cow mishaps we mentioned earlier this year:

  • NYC Aviation reported early last year an incident at the Mayor Buenaventura Vivas Airport in Santo Domingo, Venezuela, where an Aserca Airlines McDonnell Douglas MD-82 struck two cows (who died instantly) because they did not move fast enough. The cows damaged the jet’s left main landing gear while the left wing flaps were damaged enough to keep the aircraft grounded until repairs could be made.
  • NYC Aviation also mentioned that in 2005, a herd of cows were hit by an Air France Airbus A330 while landing in Port Harcourt, Nigeria. The incident led local authorities to arrest stray cows and hold them until their owners paid a fine.
  • The Jakarta Post reported in 2011, an Aviastar Twin Otter hit three cows while landing at the Komodo Airport in Indonesia. Komodo happens to also be the home of Komodo Dragons who presumably avoid wandering on runways!
  • We also posted a video of a British biplane clipping a cow while making a landing in a field back in 2008.

To add to these cow incidents, General Aviation News has posted a September 2011 National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) accident report involving a Cessna 182 hitting a cow in Roundup, Montana. Apparently, the pilot was attempting to land on a dirt road when he overflew the area and noticed a group of cows nearby before entering a left-hand pattern.

During the landing flare, the pilot saw a cow approaching from the left and he attempted to swerve to miss the animal, but was unsuccessful and hit the cow. Although the pilot attempted to regain control, the aircraft continued to the left, landed hard, bounced and settled back onto the ground – resulting in substantial damage.

No word on whether the cow had also had substantial damage or survived while the NTSB ruled that the accident was caused by the pilot’s failure to maintain clearance from an obstacle (the cow) during the landing flare.

In other words, watch out for cows the next time you land on a dirt road or grass landing strip or an open field!

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Pegasus House: The former HQ of the Bristol Aeroplane Company is restored

The Gazette and ThisIsBristol.com have both ran stories on the restoration of Pegasus House, the Grade II listed art deco building in Filton which once housed the Bristol Aeroplane Company. That restoration is now complete with the Duke of Gloucester taking part in the official ceremony yesterday to mark the completion.

GolfHotelWhiskey.com - Pegasus House in Filton

Designed by Austen Hall and inaugurated in 1936 as headquarters of the Bristol Aeroplane Company, Pegasus House once housed hundreds of aircraft personnel (mostly draughtsmen), but only founder Sir George, the directors and their guests (including various royals along with Winston Churchill and Hollywood star Cary Grant) could use the imposing A38 front entrance and the ornate, specially commissioned, black and gold iron gates.

According to a local historian, the basement housed the wages and accounts offices, the ground floor contained the directors’ rooms, the first floor held the conference room (with a high ceiling and five tall window bays containing 10 plaster of Paris murals depicting the natural history of flight), the second floor had a projector and cinema room and the third floor was used as an exclusive director’s dining room.

However, the building had been left derelict for nearly two decades  when it was damaged by two fires, the damp and repeatedly vandalized by squatters, but then Airbus decided to restore it to its former glory. Renovation work began 18 months ago and now the restored building forms part of the manufacturer’s £70 million Airbus Aerospace Park.

A total of 300 employees will be based at Pegasus House and they are scheduled to move in over the weekend with another 2,500 engineers are set to work from Barnwell House on the site when it officially reopens in December.

GolfHotelWhiskey.com - Pegasus House Art Deco WindowMost of the property’s stunning art deco features were preserved, including the 1930s reliefs, marble flooring, columns and most special of all – the three story art deco stained glass window covering one of the large façades. The window was designed to illuminate the building with natural light and depicts the depicts the history of the company. It was specially commissioned and designed by Jan Juta who was famous for his work with stained glass.

In addition, the floor mosaic in the main lobby representing the signs of the zodiac was also restored. Apparently, the Zodiac was the company’s very first aircraft, but it was “no good and never actually went into production” according to Sir George White, whose great-grandfather had started the company.

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This weekend’s UK or European air shows (Sept 28-29)

As we head deeper into autumn and winter, the number of air shows or air displays in the northern latitudes like the UK is steadily dropping off. Nevertheless, here is a quick look at what’s scheduled for this weekend both in the UK or over in warmer areas of the continent:

Friday to Sunday

Festa Al Cel in Barcelona, Spain. What can be better than an air show in the clear skies over the Mediterranean as this video clearly illustrates?

The program starts at 5 PM on Friday and continues through to Sunday afternoon.

Tatoi Air Show at Athens, Greece. Part of Athens Flying Week, the military airport of Tatoi will open its gates to the public for three days to offer a unique air show and a series of individual events. Click here to see the program. Tickets are €5 for adults and children over 12 years old, €3 for children 3 – 12 years old and free entrance for children up to 3 years old on Friday; while for Saturday, tickets are €8 for adults and children over 12 years old, €4 for children 3 – 12 years old and free entrance for children up to 3 years old.

The Whole Weekend

imageSywell Classic Piston & Props at Sywell Aerodrome, Northamptonshire. Held at Northamptonshire’s Sywell Aerodrome, the Sywell Classic Piston & Props will combine “high octane live action, amazing aerial displays breathtaking classic vehicle displays, great family entertainment vintage and classic traders.” Click here for ticket information.

Malta International AirshowMalta International Airshow in Malta. Should you find yourself in sunny Malta this weekend, participants at this year’s Malta International Air Show will include aircraft from the armed forces of Germany, Italy, Malta, NATO, Poland, Qatar and the UK. Tickets prices at the airshow gate are €12 for adults with children under 14 being free while pre-paid ticket prices are €10.

Journée Portes Ouvertes BA709 de Cognac at Cognac, France. Closer to home and held on the 709 Air Base Cognac-Châteaubernard, this air show is organized to benefit the Fondation des Œuvres Sociales de l’Air (Foundation Social Works of Air) and will provide an opportunity to see static and aerial air displays plus learn about the work carried out by the French Air Force. Click here to learn more about the aircraft you will see.

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