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)