Thursday, Nov. 11, 2010

Martin Jetpack

Every depiction of future transport since Buck Rogers includes a jet pack, so who are we to mess with invention convention? The Martin Jetpack positions itself as the planet's first practical jet pack — as if it were some kind of airborne Swiffer. New Zealand inventor Glenn Martin spent nearly 30 years developing a successor to the proven but impractical Bell Rocket Belt, which first flew in 1961.

Martin's version doesn't look practical: he appears to have welded two enormous leaf blowers together and thrown on a harness. But the carbon-fiber composite frame houses a gasoline-fueled, 200-horsepower engine — more power than a Honda Accord — that turns a pair of carbon-Kevlar rotors. Theoretically, the Martin Jetpack could take its operator up 8,000 ft. Since it holds only 30 minutes' worth of fuel, though, you won't want to linger. The commercial application may be more for first responders than for early adopters. The Jetpack will sell for about $100,000; field tests start in 2011.