I Believe I Can Fly: The Personal Jetpack is Here!
For thousands of years, people have looked up at the sky in awe our winged companions. The freedom to fly like a bird was a dream for most, challenge for some, and now — a reality for all! Inventor Glen Martin has created the worlds first practical jetpack, the Martin Jetpack.
The first serious attempts to build a Jetpack were instigated by the U.S. military in the 1950’s. The idea was to build the ultimate “all terrain vehicle” to move military commanders around a battlefield. The most successful Jetpack was the Bell Rocket Belt, which first flew in 1961. When the Bell Rocket Belt was introduced to the public in the James Bond film Thunderball, Bell was inundated with thousands of requests for sales and demonstrations. However, the Rocket Belt had one major problem – with a full tank of fuel it could only fly for 26 seconds! Thus the Bell Rocket Belt was destined to only be used in movies, TV programs and demonstrations.
- Capable of achieving 30 minutes of flight time
- Fueled by regular gasoline
- Equipped with Ballistic parachute
- Redundant systems
- Impact absorbing undercarriage
- 1,000 hours engine TBO
- 27 years research & development
- Patented fan jet technology
- Complies with Ultralight regulations
- No pilot’s license required (must pass the Martin Aircraft flight training program)
1981: Glenn Martin develops a jetpack concept. The engineering project was verified by the University of Canterbury, Mechanical Engineering Department, New Zealand.
1998: Martin founds Martin Aircraft Company Limited with a specific goal – to research and develop a Jetpack that could fly 100 times longer than the Bell Rocket Belt (26 seconds).
2003: The project captures the interest and commitment of New Zealand’s top venture capital company – No 8 Ventures.
2004: A Board of Directors is appointed consisting of Jenny Morel, Richard Lauder and Glenn Martin. Tony Marks joined the board in 2006.
2005: Prototype 9 achieves sustained flight times. This laid the foundation for a viable and successful pre-production prototype to be developed.
2008: The launch of the Martin Jetpack, the world’s first practical jetpack, at EAA Airventures Oshkosh.
Glenn Martin, Inventor of the Martin Jetpack and Managing Director of Martin Aircraft Company, was born on November 19, 1959. Married with two children, the childhood memory below says it all:
Glenn, as a child, was first and foremost an inventor. At the age of 3 he set about fixing his mother’s broken vacuum cleaner. A few hours later, having successfully disassembled it and put it back together again, minus a few key parts, he proudly plugged it in and blew the entire electrical grid in his town.
What happens if the engine stops?
The Martin Jetpack is equipped with a ballistic parachute. If something untoward happens, the pilot pulls a toggle and a small propellant (similar to one used in a car airbag) is fired rapidly deploying a parachute. The pilot, Jetpack and parachute descend as one. The use of ballistic parachutes is now quite common in general aviation; for example, they are standard equipment in the Cirrus series of single engine aircraft.
How easy is it to fly?
Helicopters require a tail rotor to counteract the rotor torque; this and the articulated head complicate flying, construction and maintenance enormously. The Jetpack is designed to be torque neutral, there is no tail rotor, no collective, no articulating head or foot pedals. This simplifies flying dramatically. Pitch and roll are controlled by one hand. Yaw and throttle by the other.
Are we all going to be flying to work on these?
With the current air traffic control system, commuting would not be possible. The US FAA is currently developing a ‘highways in the sky’ technology; think 3D highways based on automated GPS tracks. Initial tests have been positive but the full system is not likely to be implemented for at least 10 years. Thus the main use for Jetpacks will initially be recreational. This is similar to current ATV, snowmobile, jet ski, and ultralight use.
Are there any restrictions on who can fly one?
Currently the pilot must weigh over 140 lbs (63.5 kg) and under 240 lbs (109 kg). Pilots must also pass the Martin Aircraft training program.
How much will they cost?
Martin Aircraft has built several prototypes so we have a good idea how much they cost to manufacture. Depending on production volume, the initial cost will be about the same as a high-end motorcycle or car. As volume increases this will drop to be similar to a mid-range motorcycle or car.
ALL INFORMATION, IMAGES, AND VIDEO COURTESY OF: MARTIN JETPACK
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