The Bell rocket belt captured the world's imagination when it was featured in the 1965 James Bond movie Thunderball
. Now, the folks at Jet Machines Extreme (JME) are designing a modern version not powered by rockets, but by a set of four miniature turbojets. The new Jet Vest is expected to offer free flying times nearly four minutes in duration. Having run short of development money, JME is exploring another modern innovation by reaching out to crowd-funding site Kickstarter for a boost.
October 7, 2006 Exotic Thermo Engineering
(aka the Swiss Rocketman, Arnold Neracher) looks set to put rocketbelts seriously on the map in the near future when he unveils a rocketbelt that will fly for a full six minutes. Neracher recently set a record for rocketbelt flight duration when one of his designs flew for a full minute, more than double the traditional maximum, but earlier this week he confirmed that he is constructing a rocketbelt that will fly for six minutes. Neracher is currently testing the new machine under tethered flight conditions with pilot Yves Rossi but did not confirm whether the video posted on his site
was the machine he expected to fly for six minutes. A Swiss medical and chemical engineering consultant, Neracher has been working on rocket engines for two decades and even makes his own hydrogen peroxide fuel – it is his knowledge of exotic fuels which is believed to be the secret to the flight duration. His engines and advanced technologies have powered go-karts, bicycles (amazing video here
), dragsters, motorcycles and jet belts previously, but if Neracher achieves this goal, and we have no reason to doubt him as he generally hits his targets, the rocketbelt could finally achieve viability and would almost certainly find military application. Building a viable rocketbelt was first attempted by the German Army during WWII as the "Himmelsturmer" (Skystormer)
and the first working rocket belt was built by Bell for the U.S. Army in the 1950s.
Bell’s rocketbelt created mainstream awareness in the 1965 James Bond film Thunderball and raised expectations of consumer versions when it was used in the opening ceremony of the 1984 Olympics. But 50 years after the Bell Rocket Belt was built, only a handful of people have flown a one, only one commercial version is available (at US$250,000) and only two companies (here and here) have successfully commercialised demonstrations. Neracher will change all that if he can achieve six minutes of powered flight. Gizmag’s Billy Paul recently attended the First Annual Rocketbelt Convention at the Niagara Falls Aerospace Museum in New York, USA. Read his report here
September 29, 2006 Last weekend Gizmag’s Billy Paul
attended the First Annual Rocketbelt Convention
at the Niagara Falls Aerospace Museum in New York, USA. Yes folks, you read it right, we said rocketbelt as in jet-pack, Buck Rogers, James Bond, the 1984 Olympics and Lost in Space. Believe it or not, these devices have been around for more than four decades with the first untethered flight performed on April 20, 1961 by Harold “Hal” Graham. During the inaugural flight, Graham flew the Bell rocketbelt a not-so-astounding distance of approximately 100 feet while only a few inches off the ground. Perhaps the anticlimactic nature of this device is the central reason that we are not all flying to work using rocketbelts. Nonetheless, enthusiasts and Bell Aerospace (or just Bell depending on the year) employees from all over the globe flew to New York on boring and very un-James-Bond-like commercial jets in order to attend this rather enigmatic event.
August 13, 2006 Vaporware is software or hardware which is announced but fails to materialise. The term implies unwarranted optimism … that development is too early to support responsible statements about its completion date or even feasibility.
The rocket belt is perhaps then, the world’s longest gestation vapourware, first entering the public consciousness in the 1920s through the newspaper-syndicated Buck Rogers scifi comic strip, and first attempted by the German Army during WWII as the Himmelsturmer (Skystormer). The first working rocket belt was built by Bell for the U.S. Army
in the 1950s. It created mainstream awareness in the 1965 James Bond film Thunderball and raised expectations of consumer versions when it was used in the opening ceremony of the 1984 Olympics. But 50 years after the Bell Rocket Belt was built, only a handful of people have flown a rocketbelt, only one commercial version is available (at US$250,000
) and only two companies (here
) have successfully commercialised demonstrations. All that might change soon as a number of people have rocket belts under development and next month (September 23-24), there’s to be a Rocketbelt Convention at Niagara Aerospace Museum in New York
which is to be attended by all the major players in the fledgling industry. Organised by Peter Gijsberts, the head of the Airwalker Society and curator of the most comprehensive and up-to-date rocketbelt information website
, the RocketBelt Convention
is compulsory attendance for all would-be Buck Rogers.