Many of us, since childhood – in which we saw the old James Bond’s movie “Thunderball” in which Bond taking off in his hair bleach-fuelled Bell Aerospace Rocket Belt – have dreamed of being a pilot of similar JetPack.
The trouble is, the thrust needed to lift and propel a human body dictated maximum flight times of no more than 30 seconds. Safety, noise and cost were also major drawbacks in the development of the technology, which was first successfully trialled at the Redstone Arsenal in Alabama, USA in 1952, according to Daily Telegraph (UK).
Another attempt of lifting humans like the vertical take off and landing (VTOL) aircraft was in January 1955. The vectored-thrust, ducted-fan prototype of the Hillier Flying Platform completed its first untethered free flight and it is this technology that is used on the Martin Jetpack, which is claimed to be the world’s first practical jet pack.
The Martin Jetpack by New Zealand’s Martin Aircraft is a 553lb, five-foot cube, with twin 1.7ft diameter Kevlar/carbon rotors powered by a 200bhp 2-litre, V4 petrol engine. It has a range of 31.5 miles travelling at 63mph and what appears to be an 8,000ft ceiling – should anyone be brave enough to go that high.
The price of £66,365 ($100,000) includes a parachute, retractable energy-absorbing undercarriage and a pilot harness, but not the mandatory two- to three-day training course, which is expected to cost between £1,330 and £2,000.
Although a production jet pack has not been completed yet, Martin says it has been overwhelmed by interest from around the globe.
And now New Zealand adventure travel specialist Total Experience has teamed up with Martin Aircraft to offer a Jetpack “Test Pilot” program where anyone who is under 18, less than 90 kg and holds a current driver’s license can experience solo flight for the (relatively cheaper) outlay of NZD15,000 (about US$10,700).
The “test pilot” training program is held at the Martin Aircraft in Christchurch, New Zealand in a supervised, controlled environment and thankfully, new pilots “will not be expected to participate in any flights that put you or your aircraft at risk.”
One of the key selling points is that the Jetpack is easy to fly, so you don’t need previous flying experience. Apparently a complete novice pilot has flown a safe solo flight after just 12 minutes.
Up to four extra people can join you in the adventure, but this means that you’ll have to sacrifice some of your own flight time.
Safety gear including test pilot jumpsuit is provided. More over, you’ll get a video that will trump the skydiving exploits of you and your friends.