Sort-of Jetpack Sort-of Flies

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The Tuesday morning throngs at EAA AirVenture seemed simultaneously amazed and disappointed -- hoping that their George Jetson, or James Bond, dreams were about to be realized, the modest and safety-conscious demo by the Martin Jetpack team was noisy and blustery, but not quite up to the futuristic zip-and-zoom show that most seemed to expect. But for the most part, the crowd seemed to recognize that while the Martin Jetpack might not be a leap into the future, it is nonetheless a promising start. New Zealander Glenn Martin, who designed the jetpack, said he has been working on it for 30 years. It is not jet-powered, but uses a small two-stroke piston engine that Martin developed expressly for this use. The engine powers two ducted fans, which the flyer can control with two joysticks. The vehicle is built mainly from carbon fiber composite materials. It weighs about 250 pounds empty, and can be flown as an ultralight. It carries about 5 gallons of fuel, and could fly about 30 miles at 63 mph, the company says. (Click here to see AVweb's exclusive video of the jetpack in flight.)

The vehicle has been flight-tested in New Zealand, but hasn't reached more than 6 feet above the ground. Martin said the vehicle should be able to fly up to 8,000 feet in altitude, and he plans to fly it up to about 500 feet within the next six months. Copies are for sale as of this week, prices start at $100,000. Martin said he sees it as a recreational sport vehicle and expects he might sell 10 to 20 by this time next year.

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Video of the demo