Ever since James Bond strapped one on in Thunderball, jetpacks have held a peculiar fascination for both the public and designers trying to extend the power of flight down to the individual level. Unfortunately, most jetpack designs proved unwieldy, unstable, and expensive.
A New Zealand company appears to have solved at least two of those problems, and the New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority recently granted the Martin Aircraft Company an experimental flight permit for test flying the machine.
Designer Glenn Martin has spent 30 years perfecting the design, first working out of his garage. He formed Martin Aircraft in 2004 with backing from outside investors.
The current prototype of the Martin Jetpack can reach an altitude of 7,000 to 8,000 feet and travel up to 50 mph for 30 minutes. Pilots stand on a small platform and use a console to control vertical engines that run on gasoline. It includes a ballistic parachute for safety, in the case of an engine failure.
Martin Aircraft hopes to release the jetpack to first responders initially, and plans to roll out the craft as a recreational vehicle to the public within the next year (for around $150,000). A jetpack simulator is also in development for pilot training.
Source: Daily Mail