Jetpacks are amazing. They're also a disaster waiting to happen, but surely we can ignore the potential pitfalls of strapping a rocket to our backs in the name of science. Unfortunately, regulatory bodies around the world generally don't agree with that line of thinking, but one company has somehow managed to make New Zealand change its tune.
The Martin Aircraft Company announced today that it has obtained a Civil Aviation permit. This will allow the company to conduct manned test flights. The jetpack - appropriately called the Martin Jetpack - is billed as "the world's first practical jetpack." Here's how it works:
It consists of a purpose-built gasoline engine driving twin ducted fans which produce sufficient thrust to lift the aircraft and a pilot in vertical takeoff and landing, and enable sustained flight.
You want to see it in action? Of course you do. The Martin Aircraft Company has been conducting unmanned tests for the last few years, and have been kind enough to share videos of said tests. Here's a test from 2011 where the jetpack was able to fly to a height of 5,000 ft and then deploy its ballistic parachute:
If you want something more recent, here's a test from earlier this week featuring the latest prototype:
So, when will you be able to get your hands on your very own jetpack? Not anytime soon if current estimates are to be believed. The Martin Aircraft Company wants to start selling the jetpacks in 2014, but they will only be available to the military and emergency crews at that time. It won't be until 2015 that the company will start selling its jetpack to the general public. Even then, one jetpack is likely to cost anywhere between $150,000 and $250,000.
With all this work being done in New Zealand, it's a little disappointing that researchers in the U.S. aren't pursuing their own jetpack. Of course, I can kind of see why considering our sordid history with the technology:[Image: Martin Jetpack] [h/t: Discovery]