Martin Jetpack's 'jetski for the skies' to go on sale in 2012 (video)
A New Zealand inventor hopes to have a personal jetpack - which he dubs a "jetski for the skies" - on the market within 18 months, reports the Telegraph
Developer Glenn Martin, who has been working on his flying machine for 30 years, intends to make it available on the market in 2012 at a cost of about $100,000 (Â£60,000). Last month, the jetpack made its first high-altitude test flight, taking a dummy pilot to 1,500 meters (5,000 feet) under remote control while Mr Martin watched from a helicopter.
The jetpack - in fact using ducted fans, rather than jets - has been eagerly awaited for some years. In 2009 it was revealed that Mr Martin was seeking test pilots via eBay, and late last year Time magazine named the machine as one of the most anticipated inventions in the world.
The May 21 flight was a milestone in Martin's dream of building the world's first practical jetpack.
"The first people using these in cities will be medical personnel doing emergency response," he said.
"Then you'll see people putting camera mounts on them for traffic reporting and it will eventually evolve into people just flying for fun or going to work."
Martin's jetpack - which Time likened to two enormous leaf blowers welded together - consists of a pair of cylinders containing propulsion fans attached to a free-standing carbon-fibre frame.
The pilot backs into the frame, straps himself in and controls the wingless jetpack with two joysticks.
Powered by a two-litre V4 engine generating about 200 horsepower, the concept as explained by Martin is simple: "If you shoot enough air down fast enough, then you'll go up."
Fine-tuning details to turn the idea into a safe, workable flying machine has taken decades.
After numerous prototypes, the model that Martin hopes to put into production is designed to meet US ultralight standards, weighing less than 115 kilograms (254 pounds) and carrying a 20 litre (4.5 gallon) fuel tank.
That theoretically gives it a 30 minute flight time and a range of 50 kilometres (31 miles), although he said work was already underway on versions with extended capabilities. Martin says flying the machine can be mastered in less than an hour. It has a rocket-propelled parachute if anything goes wrong.
The history of jetpack flight is littered with failure. Probably the best known attempt is the Bell Rocket Belt, which featured in the James Bond movie "Thunderball". It could only fly for 30 seconds and is now gathering dust at the Smithsonian Institution in the United States.
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