“Jets Off” to the Jetpacker

The jetpack is probably the most recognizable brainchild of science fiction to creep its way into reality.

A longtime symbol of the future (remember the Jetsons?) the jetpack continues to capture the imaginations of many, and society’s fascination with personal flight never seems to cease.

While its not exactly the handy-dandy device that shoots fire and sends you skyrocketing, New Zealander Glenn Martin’s jetpack will certainly get you in the air, as seen yesterday at EAA AirVenture OshKosh 2008, the annual aviation convention of the Experimental Aircraft Association in Wisconsin.

Fastening himself into the 250 pound apparatus, the inventor’s 16 year old son Harrison suited up and flew about 3 feet off the ground, hovering for about 45 seconds, to much applause. You can check out the youtube video here.

Made of carbon fiber composite, the jetpack’s inventor claims it can fly an average-sized pilot about 30 miles in 30 miles on a 5-gallon tank of gas although these predictions have yet to be tested. It is designed for the pilot to “get into”, rather than strap on. Upward facing fans on both sides of the jetpack provide the thrust needed to take off.

Safety precautions should be a concern of every future jetpacker. This one has an emergency parachute that operates above 400 feet, and the bottom framework of the jetpack is impact absorbing, which can lessen the pain of a fall or rough landing.

Believe it or not, the Martin Jet pack conforms to Federal Aviation Administration standards (yes there are actually rules for jetpacks), as it weighs less than 254 pounds and is designed to carry only one passenger. The best part is you don’t need a pilots license to fly one. Yet.

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