Out of the comics and into reality: Jet pack moves closer to market


jet pack

The New Zealand-based Martin Aircraft Co. doesn't just think it's turned the jet pack of your imagination into a reality. It thinks it's made something better.

"The ones that you've seen previously in history seem to have a very limited time of endurance," CEO Peter Coker tells NPR's Don Gonyea. "We wanted something that you could actually use on the day-to-day basis."

The company plans to put on the industrial market next year.

The structure consists of an engine and two ducts — those wing-like structures coming out of the side — and a pilot console. The pilot can stand on the console, strap in and use joystick-style controls to fly around.

Last week, New Zealand's Civil Aviation Authority granted the company permission to conduct piloted tests of the one-person flying machine. Before this, most tests have been done with dummies via remote control.

The origins of the project go all the way back to 1984, when inventor Glenn Martin began tinkering with the idea in his garage. He started Martin Aircraft 20 years later, and he's been working with a team of engineers to perfect the flying machine ever since. A dozen prototypes later, the jet pack can travel almost a mile high.

"We reckon it can probably move about 8,000 feet, but we don't think many people will want to go much higher than that, particularly when they're strapped into this machine," Coker says.

He says it took some time for people to believe that the machine could really fly that high: "There was a perception amongst the public and certain aviators — a skeptical perception — that actually this thing doesn't get above what we call ground effect, i.e. a couple of feet."

The company's first jet pack will be on the market in 2014 and will be targeted to first-responders, who could benefit from being able to cut through traffic and to have an aerial view. Martin Aircraft has gotten a lot of interest from fire services around the globe, as well as search-and-rescue, border patrol and bridge inspection teams. Since the machine can be flown unmanned, Coker says, there's also been tremendous interest from military institutions worldwide.

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Munk site profile image  

8/20/13 9:00 AM by Munk

Squattite is jealous because they have a 5'5" height requirement.

Braun187 site profile image  

8/19/13 11:42 PM by Braun187


Squatdog site profile image  

8/19/13 11:23 PM by Squatdog

It won;t be available for the US market due to the turbines being unable to generate enough thrust to get an American off the ground.

Luncha Libre site profile image  

8/19/13 11:20 PM by Luncha Libre


cheesesteak site profile image  

8/19/13 5:47 PM by cheesesteak

lol. You just made my ginger ale come out my nose!!!!

Luncha Libre site profile image  

8/19/13 5:26 PM by Luncha Libre

TTT for BWS and his quest to conquer stairs everywhere.

slo ko site profile image  

8/19/13 2:10 PM by slo ko

I envision a day when this dude can just fly down your street and basically leaf blow the entire neighborhood.

slo ko site profile image  

8/19/13 2:06 PM by slo ko

Enemy MAV!

MauricoRua site profile image  

8/19/13 1:44 PM by MauricoRua

Legit lol. Somebody vote this man up for me.

Buffer720 site profile image  

8/19/13 1:41 PM by Buffer720

Um a small malfunction in any of those would not result in death, but most certainly if you're hundreds of feet in the air