While we have all dreamt of soaring in the sky like a bird, very few of us have had the opportunity to actually do it. However, if the folks at Christchurch based Martin Aircraft have their way, flying around may become as common as, driving a car.
Founded by Glen Martin with the specific aim of building a commercial jetpack, Martin Aircraft has been working on perfecting the individual flying machine, since 1998. Now, almost 12 years and nine prototypes later, the company has finally come up with a jetpack that works perfectly and have recently contracted with an aircraft company to produce 500 packs a year.
Constructed from carbon fiber composite, the jetpack that measures 5ft. high x 5.5ft. wide x 5ft. long, sports a 200 horsepower engine that allows the rider to zoom at speeds of up to 60mph for a full 30 minutes on a full tank of fuel. During the trials the jetpack reached a height 7,800 ft.
While it may look a little dangerous, it has a number of built in safety features, including an internal roll cage that protects the pilot from side impact, as well as, a ballistic parachute that opens up even at low altitudes.
The best part is, that since it weighs a mere 250lbs, it is considered ultra light by the Federal Aviation Administration, which means that a user does not need a pilot's license - However, Martin Aircraft does have an in-house training program that every buyer will have to undergo, before the pack is sold.
So where would one fly with this jetpack strapped on their back? Martin Aircraft believes that it will be perfect for emergency services, military and most importantly for private users who want to beat the morning commute. However, with a price tag that is expected to be north of $90,000USD, the Martin Jetpack may not be quite the ideal commuter vehicle for everybody.
Also there is the additional issue of authorities not being ready to have individuals jet setting around the globe. The FAA in the US is in the process of building 'highways in the sky' or 3D highways based on GPS tracks but, they are still very much a work in progress, and could take over a decade to be approved.
However, neither factors seem to have deterred the many customers who have already paid Martin Aircraft a hefty deposit to get their hands on the first individual commercial flying machine, which will allow them to soar - up up and away!
Resources: gizmag.com, wired.com