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Jet packs jostle for attentionJet packs jostle for attention

The jet pack has captivated public imagination for more than 50 years, a fascination dating, for some, to the 1965 James Bond movie Thunderball, when Sean Connery used a Bell Rocket Belt to escape from a scrape. While the military deemed them impractical for real-world use, that has not stopped civilians from pursuing the dream. Recent flight videos posted on YouTube have collected hundreds of thousands of views as different companies continue to harness the attention-getting power of the jet pack.

Whether any of these designs will ever be sold to the public remains to be seen.

Martin Aircraft Co. in New Zealand is testing a prototype that isn’t really a jet pack at all, but rather a pair of ducted fans with a person attached. The company website welcomes inquiries from private individuals and public safety customers, stating the Martin Jetpack Series 1 model made for first responders will be ready for testing late in 2016.

JetPack Aviation has meanwhile raised its profile with a series of videos shot this month and posted to YouTube, giving the public a peek at the JB-10 Personal JetPack. Australian entrepreneur, test pilot, and JetPack Aviation CEO David Mayman flew a previous version around the Statute of Liberty in November 2015, and has launched an online fundraising campaign seeking investors and setting the company’s value at roughly $50 million.

JetPack Aviation is based in California and aims to sell its personal jet packs for about $250,000 each, The Washington Post reported. The company posted videos on YouTube this month of flights in Monaco and London (seen above).

The JB-10 is powered by a pair of small turbojet engines (the company reports that a turbofan upgrade may arrive in the future). The company claims endurance can exceed 10 minutes; speed can top 100 mph; and the JB-10 can carry the pilot to 10,000 feet or higher. They are currently working on a parachute for it.

The makers of the Apollo Jet Pack (previously known as the Go Fast! Jet Pack when it was sponsored by an energy drink maker; it is currently sponsored by an energy gum maker) are also hard at work, though their two jet pack models have been used exclusively for publicity stunts so far. Powered by hydrogen peroxide and capable of little more than 30 seconds of flight, the company does suggest a prototype called the Falcon is in development and will be sold to “qualified individuals that have undergone extensive flight training on our Falcon Flight Simulator.”

This human bottle rocket system has made many appearances on television, at sporting events, and shows of various kinds. It claimed a record in 2009 as the first and therefore the fastest hydrogen-peroxide-powered jet pack, clocked at 68 mph by a police radar gun at a motor show in Scotland. In 2014, the same company and pilot flew inside a large glass building packed with spectators. The flight times for that hydrogen-peroxide rocket have not significantly improved in recent years.

Jim Moore

Jim Moore

Editor-Web Jim Moore joined AOPA in 2011 and is an instrument-rated private pilot, as well as a certificated remote pilot, who enjoys competition aerobatics and flying drones.
Topics: Technology

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