Martin Jetpack Hits 5,000 Feet

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The Martin Jetpack went to 5,000 feet May 21 and came back on its emergency parachute in the most ambitious test flight to date. Equipped with multiple video cameras and occupied with a weighted mannequin as a test pilot, the remote-control version of the ducted fan device rose vertically over the New Zealand countryside before the high-revving two-stroke engine was shut down and the ballistic chute was fired remotely. It all seemed to go according to plan, with the apparently undamaged machine and mannequin settling in a farmer's field at a vertical speed of 15.7 mph.

In the video, inventor Glenn Martin says the performance of the Jetpack to 5,000 feet suggests it will have a realistic ceiling of about 8,000 feet. The company will be poring over data from the flight but there doesn't appear to be any indication of when a flesh-and-blood pilot will take the controls for an outside flight. The company says it plans to have manned and UAV versions ready for sale in 18 months.