Could We Really Have Personal Jetpacks By 2015?
New Zealand-based Martin Aircraft has just been given the go-ahead to begin manned test flights of its P12 jetpack. If all goes well, a (very expensive) version could be on the market in as little as two years.
Kecia Lynn has worked as a technical writer, editor, software developer, arts administrator, summer camp director, and television host. A graduate of Case Western Reserve University and the Iowa Writers' Workshop, she is currently living in Iowa City and working on her first novel.
What's the Latest Development?
The New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority has given Christchurch-based Martin Aircraft the go-ahead to begin conducting manned tests of its P12 jetpack, which has design changes that have "resulted in a quantum leap in performance over the previous prototype," according to CEO Peter Coker. Those changes include a repositioning of the fan ducts, which makes it much easier to steer. The test flights will be done under strict safety conditions, with the pilot restricted to a maximum height of 20 feet above the ground and 25 feet above the water.
What's the Big Idea?
Long the stuff of science fiction, jetpacks of various types have been developed over the decades, but few have seen any real success, and none have come close to being used in practical earthbound applications. Martin Aircraft founder Glenn Martin first began working on his version in his garage over 30 years ago. If tests go well, Coker says a special version for the military and first-responder crews should be ready by next summer, and a simplified personal version could come the year after that. Not surprisingly, it won't be cheap: The estimated cost will be in the US$150,000-250,000 range.
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