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The Martin Jetpack

By

March 7, 2010

The Martin Aircraft jetpack is the first commercially-available jetpack

The Martin Aircraft jetpack is the first commercially-available jetpack

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It's been a long time coming. While Arthur C. Clarke's satellites have taken to space, and James Bond's futuristic mobile technology has become common place, still the dream of sustained personal flight has eluded us. But the future is here! Finally we can all take flight as Martin Aircraft in New Zealand releases the first commercially-available jet pack!

A bit of history...

Like many science fiction concepts, the jetpack design has become firmly entrenched in the collective psyche: ask anyone to draw you a jetpack and they will give you a man with two fiery pods strapped to his back gravitating him skyward. We owe much of this to James Bond's Thunderball, which served to advertise the most successful of all the jetpack inventions; the Bell Rocket Belt.

Developed by the U.S. military in 1961 with the aim of producing an all-terrain vehicle to move military commanders around a battlefield, the Bell Rocket Belt could only maintain flight for 26 seconds on a full tank of fuel. After the film was released the subsequent clamoring for sales only served to prove what a marketable product a jetpack might be if one could be properly developed. Sadly with such limited application the Bell Rocket Belt was consigned merely to film work and TV appearances.

More recently, aside from the exploits of a brave few like Yves Rossy, attempts to realize a one-person flying machine ranging from flying exoskeletons to ion-propelled and water-drive technology have failed to gain momentum.

In 1998 and Martin Aircraft of Christchurch New Zealand was formed with the specific aim to build a jetpack that improved on the Bell Rocket Belt's record fly time by 100 times. The concept, developed by Glenn Martin, manager of Martin Aircraft in 1981, was verified by the Mechanical Engineering Department at the University of Canterbury, New Zealand. Since then nine prototypes have been developed and it is lucky number nine that in 2005 broke the mold and achieve sustained flight times.

The jetpack design has become firmly entrenched in the collective psyche

The technology

The Jetpack is constructed from carbon fiber composite, has a dry weight of 250 lbs (excluding safety equipment) and measures 5 ft high x 5.5 ft wide x 5 ft long. It's driven by a 2.0 L V4 2 stroke engine rated at 200 hp (150 kw), can reach 8000 ft (estimated) and each of the two 1.7 ft wide rotors is made from carbon / Kevlar composite.

There is always risk associated with flying so Martin Aircraft has been careful to equip the pack with redundant systems that will take over in the event that the main system goes down. If a crash-landing is required, a pilot-operated toggle will rapidly fire a small amount of propellant deploying a ballistic parachute (similar to a car airbag) which will allow the pilot and jetpack to descend together. It also has an impact-absorbing carriage, patented fan jet technology and 1000 hours engine TBO (Time Between Overhaul). Small vertical take-off and landing aircraft (VTOL) are not subject to the same limitations as other helicopters and fixed wing aircrafts but Martin Aircraft have built it to comply with ultralight regulations and therefore suggest it as at least as safe to operate, and claim it is the safest of all jetpacks yet built.

The Jetpack achieves with 30 minutes of flight time and is fueled by regular premium gasoline, though you will undoubtedly earn some disbelieving stares at the petrol station. Since it has been built according to ultralight regulations no FAA recognized pilot's license is required to fly one in the U.S., though this will depend on a country's specific requirements. However, despite being significantly less complex than a helicopter to fly as pitch and roll are controlled by one hand, thrust and yaw by the other, Martin Aircraft won't let anyone take receipt of their jetpack before completing their specially-developed Martin Aircraft Company approved training program. The pilot must also weigh between 140-240 lbs.

The Martin Aircraft jetpack

Tell what I really want to know: how can I get my hands on one?

After nine prototypes Martin Aircraft have an accurate expectation for how much a jetpack will cost, and suggest that at $86,000 it is pitched at the level of a high-end car. As sales and production volume increase they expect this to drop to the price of a mid-range car. A 10% deposit buys you a production slot for 12 months hence; progress payments are made during manufacture with final payment due on delivery. Details and a deposit contract are available from their Martin Aircraft's website.

And when will I be able drive it to work? Again it's a waiting game as currently air traffic control technology is not yet advanced enough to cope with jetpacks, but the US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is developing "highways in the sky" technology - 3D highways based on GPS tracks. Initial tests have been positive but the technology is unlikely to be implemented for another 10 years yet so for the meantime initial use will remain recreational as with jet-skis, snowmobiles and ultralights. Until then we'll keep waiting and watching the sky...

37 Comments

I do hope there is an electric version in the offing,hahahahahahahahaahahhaahahaha

robinyatesuk2003
8th March, 2010 @ 06:02 am PST

Finally, my jet pack is here! (found this on my daily gizmag)

Karin Corea-Laurel
8th March, 2010 @ 11:40 am PST

How much is a model with a passenger seat I wonder? :D

Elizabeth Whitmire
8th March, 2010 @ 02:12 pm PST

Hmmmmmmmmm...........

The Bell Rocket Belt - was a total douche bag marketed to idiots who lapped up the hype with dragging tounges...... "Oh every soldier on the battle field can have one" - "Commuting to work in this" and "Ohhhhh blah blah blah blah - a great boon for all man kind - the possibilities are endless".

Never mind that it takes people in space suits to refuel it with 90% hydrogen peroxide and it's 29 second flight times....

And now this?

It's really nothing more than a very big expensive pogo stick minus the spring.

"What?" I hear the protagonists say.

"Call me after your first high speed belly landing" - me thinks.

Mr Stiffy
8th March, 2010 @ 07:27 pm PST

I am pretty sure its a 1000 hour overhaul not 100 hour.

Reuben Stewart Richardson
8th March, 2010 @ 07:54 pm PST

The top photo looks like a twin espresso coffee machine. As regards performance, there will be a big difference in flight time, depending on your weight. I think I might just about be able to lift off the ground. I really must lose some weight! Strangely, I can't imagine an electric version of this being at all practical. Sufficient power would just not be available. Battery weight would scupper it.

windykites1
9th March, 2010 @ 04:51 am PST

I just had a thought. Would a deisel engine give better range? maybe it would be too heavy.

windykites1
9th March, 2010 @ 04:55 am PST

What a great way to avoid the commuter traffic jams. Fly over their heads and be in work in half the time.

Not that expensive for a brand new product, and I'm sure it will be down to reasonable levels within 10 years.

Pablo9176
9th March, 2010 @ 06:00 pm PST

Max velocity=???

Charles Valentino
10th March, 2010 @ 11:21 am PST

I like it! Unlike flying cars, a heavy duty chain link fence over the house will keep that flaming deathtrap from falling through the roof.

Markus Unread
10th March, 2010 @ 09:20 pm PST

i think a electric version could be possible with non thermal nuclear batteries.

of course it will NOT be available to the public, not with its nuclear batteries, but i think with enough money it can be made.

bio-power jeff
11th March, 2010 @ 12:20 am PST

Calling this a "jet-pack" is a little like calling a Honda Civic a jet car -- "a 2.0 L V4 2 stroke engine" is no jet. The fact it qualifies under Ultralight regulations is fascinating; since the rotors serve as airfoils, I wonder how the FAA actually classifies this. Having a pair of spinning scimitars rotating at high RPMs a few inches from my neck would make me a bit nervous. :-)

Gary Fisher
11th March, 2010 @ 08:14 am PST

personal jet packs are great, but what i really want to know is where are they with getting teleports to market?

Elizabeth Bancroft Closmore
12th March, 2010 @ 06:40 am PST

OK,V4 2 stroke-sounds like a converted outboard engine,possibly direct injected. You need something like that in this application for it's power to weight ratio,or you'd have no useful endurance at all. But if he wants to go another step,the plated Wankels that are slated for the Moller Air Car would be a better option. Actually,I seem to recall that a similar vehicle using them has been looked at already.

Clever little dicks some of these Kiwi's, check out the late great John Britten's V twin Race bikes-possibly the only Motorcycle I'd ever have unprotected sex with.

gragraposker
12th March, 2010 @ 05:05 pm PST

Impressive achievement. However, given the relatively high thrust capacity of this machine, perhaps an integral folding or delta wing would enable that thrust to vastly increase it's speed and range by allowing for conversion to horizontal flight at altitude.

Sort of Yves Rossy meets Glen Martin....

That is the logical progression for this device.

Techstuf
14th March, 2010 @ 03:09 pm PDT

BITCHEN TECHNOLOGY...I Mean dump turbines and put the mini reactor and power that baby with electricity....loose the fat and make it real. I'd still buy one even if its not

much on the practical side. sure would be fun on a summer day. I bet my banker has one for him and his kids.

thollarn
15th March, 2010 @ 06:18 am PDT

I agree with gragraposker, the Moller rotapower engine would be a better choice from a weight, power and flyt endurance perspective at 160 HP in a 68.8 lb package you could be airbourne little while longer. However with 1500 degree exhaust gases, you have to add heat shields between the exhaust ports and the pilot, sacrificing a little weight for a reduction in third degree burns...

richiej615
15th March, 2010 @ 12:58 pm PDT

Re richiej615's concerns about the 1500 deg' celcius exhaust from the Mollers Wankels if used in this style of backpac device. I'm not as concerned as the exhaust gases would logically exit in the centre of the thrust shower-and therefore be insulated in that short distance between the exhaust manifold and the side of the craft and pilot. I mean it has to exit there because the engine causes a thrust shadow below it,and the exhaust helps fill that low pressure area in to reduce efficiency robbing swirling in the thrust shower.

Think of how a modern high bypass jet engine helps reduce noise compared to old style jet motors.It does it by blowing cold waste thrust around the engine nacel from it's extra large first stage fan.

Gra

gragraposker
17th March, 2010 @ 10:48 pm PDT

This design is maybe stable, but ultimately too bulky. One can not fit it into an average garage, because it would hit the ceiling, neither it can fit into the back of the van. Since it certainly makes horrendous amount of noise, one has to be well outside any urban areas both for take of and lending. That means that you need to arrange for transportation to taking off area first.

Otherwise it is the best looking one so far. It is really nicely designed. But one would be not able to smoke a tobacco cigarette, because it can lit up fuel or it would be extinguished by wind. Only an electronic cigarette, like gamucci electronic would do it, because it is not affected by wind and it doesn't create flame, so it can not set up the kerosene on fire.

gamucci electronic
25th March, 2010 @ 05:05 am PDT

Heh, can I carry a twenty pound weight with me if I don't weigh enough to fly one!

Colter Cederlof
26th March, 2010 @ 10:53 pm PDT

technology is a one big adventure. same as Gamucci Micro

gamucci electronic
30th March, 2010 @ 08:48 am PDT

Great Adventure

Mani Arthanari
31st March, 2010 @ 02:58 am PDT

cant we put a Jirnoff gas turbine in it? It has high efficiency than the 2 stroker? size is about the same. runs on any fossil fuel.

Johan Harris
13th April, 2010 @ 11:21 pm PDT

Moller's rotory engines are the lightest to horsepower of any I know, however, witht he advancements of brushless dc motors for rc planes and the up and coming advancement on lithum batteries it will be plausible to have ducted fan packs smaller than this one. THey have a three horsepower motor that will fit inside an orange. They just need the right size. does anyone know horsepower to thrust ratios? I believe I read 1 horsepower can make 10 pounds of thrust reliably. But also 12 and 22 pounds under different circumstances such as the use of larger helicopter blades. Two ten horse brushless motors would still be small, develope perhaps 240 pounds of lift in a rig that weighs 40 pounds? I think it is concievable. Wade.

Ronald Wade Cooper
16th June, 2010 @ 10:15 pm PDT

Where do i buy this

Facebook User
11th September, 2010 @ 09:25 pm PDT

I will definitely get one, however, I may wait until the second generation to make sure the bugs are worked out.

Facebook User
11th October, 2010 @ 09:32 am PDT

This jetpack can be yours for $100,000

It's actually Available! MSN.com 11/18/2010

Saw the article. First we had to watch out for bad drivers. This can get scary; or fun.

Gargamoth
19th November, 2010 @ 06:45 pm PST

Jetpack???

Someone is confused...shouldn't it be Pistonpack?

Facebook User
18th January, 2011 @ 11:24 pm PST

Think of arriving at a highschool reunion in one of these! Touchdown in a tux, unstrap, and head over to the former prom queen (who's gained 50 pounds and married the captain of the football team, who maxed his career at the assembly plant in the late 80's). Whisper in her ear, you could have had me! Then wake up from your dream because you're an out-of-work actor, barely able to support yourself in NYC.

Tom Hedlund
25th January, 2011 @ 08:42 pm PST

To fix the name issue call it a THRUSTER-PACK.It WILL fit in your garage its not even 6' tall.I am surprised they chose a v4 as well other than if its a marine conversion it will have great reliability. I designed one that uses 4 jet-turbine driven ducted fans but I don't have the $60,000 to build it. The RC version worked though so the concept is valid.

Bear.in.camo
18th February, 2011 @ 07:19 am PST

@ Bear n Camo : Do it with Rotax driven ducteds,and in a cheaper skin like epoxy and plywood, Proof of concept.... and look for the Angel Investor of your dreams.

waltinseattle
23rd February, 2011 @ 01:12 pm PST

This is what I'm talkin' about....What a great machine. Have you checked out the small jet engines use for remote control airplanes and helicopters ? There is on that produces 150 lbs of thrust. Four or these ( two on each side) would do a great job, have a better to forward velocity and climb rate. It could also operate at high altitude like in the mountains above 6,000 feet. 600 lbs of thrust on a 250lbs machine and 170 lbs pilot would work like a champ. I know it would use alot of fuel and the TBO may be more often but the preformance would be stunning.

Robert Lominick
16th March, 2011 @ 06:40 pm PDT

Yaay! I'm buying two, and bolting them to each end of my motorcycle. ooh extended tanks! Wow, a forward facing .50 cal!

Ahura
6th October, 2011 @ 08:17 pm PDT

This is great, i believe flying is no longer dedicated to birds and airplanes....

م. سامي سرحان
13th June, 2012 @ 03:12 am PDT

$86K USD? or NZD? At those quantities, it makes a difference to me.

Julio Jua
1st October, 2012 @ 12:02 pm PDT

This is every little boys dreams I would love to waddle into the gas station with one of these.

Lars C. Bjerga
27th November, 2013 @ 04:08 pm PST

what is the speed during the 30 minutes of flight time?

luisgtorres@gmx.com

elmexicano
10th January, 2014 @ 09:09 am PST
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