Technology

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Morry Gash/Associated Press
Harrison Martin takes a jet pack for a test flight at the annual EAA Airventure Fly-in,
Tuesday, July 29, 2008, in Oshkosh, Wis. (AP)

Who Wants To Buy a Jetpack?

July 29, 2008 01:31 PM
by Josh Katz
Inventor Glenn Martin of New Zealand presented his invention at the annual Wisconsin air show this week: a reputedly practical jetpack.

30-Second Summary

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Martin said he would like to start selling the jetpacks next year for $100,000 apiece. A machine currently weighs about 250 pounds and offers 600 pounds of thrust.

As far as safety is concerned, Martin says it’s definitely the safest jetpack built to this point, but acknowledges that, “Safety is a relative thing.” He is also not sure what the greater purpose of the invention will be.

According to The New York Times, “since the 1960s, several real jetpack designs have been built from metal, plastic and propellant. None has flown more than a minute. Mr. Martin’s machines can run for 30 minutes.”

The machine is technically not a jet, either. MSNBC.com science editor Alan Boyle says that the Federal Aviation Administration would probably consider it to be an “experimental ultralight airplane, equipped with a gas-powered, V-4 piston engine and two ducted fans that provide the lift.”

Jetpacks entered the public imagination in the 1920s, with the story of Buck Rogers and his “jumping belt.” James Bond further popularized the idea when he escaped to his Aston Martin with the assistance of his trusty jetpack in the 1965 movie “Thunderball.” Then in 1991 Disney released “The Rocketeer,” in which the protagonist used a rocket-propelled backpack to combat Nazis.

Swiss daredevil Yves Rossy soared through the air for five minutes in May in a “jet-powered wing suit.” Others have also recently sought individual flight via balloons; an Oregon man flew to Idaho in a balloon lawn chair, even though the dead body of Brazilian balloonist Father Carli had been found just 24 hours earlier.

Headline Link: Martin unveils his jetpack

Analysis: ‘Is This Your Jetpack?’

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