The Martin Jetpack has been a novelty aerospace item since the early-2000s. You might have seen them being tested on TV news programs, science forums and there have even been fair-style rides where the unit was tethered to the ground by men on either side. But we're not talking about those early years. Instead, we're talking about a real-world functional piece of flying technology that would have left Leonardo da Vinci and thousands of other engineering and flight aficionados pressing their foreheads to the ground in thankful meditation and prayer.
In 2013, inquiries are being accepted from military and large commercial companies who are willing to purchase the packs (for a reported $100,000 each) with a beta-testing rider, which simply means that this functional wonder now needs to have many thousands of test hours in real-world conditions to be deemed safe in the mainstream. By selling these to only government and commercial entities with a limited "test" liability, the Martin company will be able to fine tune any bugs so that they can start shifting the units to the masses, hopefully in 2014.
A couple of interesting little facts about these amazing units: First, they are not actually jetpacks; they're actually more like fan-driven, personal hovercrafts with gasoline engines. They use a person-to-computer-to-jetpack interface, which simply means that the pilot provides input to a computer, which then safely controls the flight...sort of like autopilot on steroids. The packs themselves are about 5 feet tall, 5 1/2 feet wide and weigh just shy of 300 pounds. You have to use the legs for landing because the average person could not control that much weight. The controls can be set to a maximum height, so that the pilot does not accidentally go to high, which is particularly handy because flying over a certain altitude requires a parachute for safe landing. Apparently, upside-down and face-first landings are frowned upon. Lower altitude flights can land just fine using just the gasoline driven fans.
So what could you do with your own personal jetack...other than make payments I mean? Well, one of these units can reportedly travel 60 miles per hour. It has enough fuel for 30 continuous minutes of flight, which if you do a little quick math means that you could make a one-way trip 30 miles before refueling, or you could make a fifteen-mile trip and return before settling down at your neighborhood gas pump.
I say we should all save up for our Jetsons-style transportation that could be available to everyone as early as 2014. In the meantime, buy stock in the company, if for no other reason than to make sure the units make it to the mass production line :-)
Finally, the future we have been waiting for has arrived...at least part of it. We still have to wait a bit on the human-like robot servants and restaurants in space :-)
Be sure to check out the great videos at the Martin Jetpack website. Needless to say, I'm a huge fan of the company and the product.