Al Marsh

Jetpack secrets revealed here

July 19, 2008 by Alton K. Marsh, Senior Editor, AOPA Pilot

Want a commercially available personal jetpack to loft you into the heavens like a hovercraft on steroids? It will be flown Tuesday, July 29, at EAA AirVenture before a no-doubt astonished crowd. But right now it’s a secret. Rocket man/person? Piston-engine man/person?

I think I know what it is. In September of 2006 Glenn Neil Martin of Christchurch, New Zealand, patented a backpack featuring rotatable, belt-driven ducted fans–one off each shoulder–powered by a gas or turbine engine. (Shrouded propellers can be used, too, but Martin didn’t seem to think much of them in his patent papers.) That’s the same guy who is giving the demo. It may look something like the Milennium Jet Solo Trek .

It can’t really be called a jetpack, because that implies a standard James Bond rocket-power jetpack that typically only gives you 26 seconds of flight. Martin is reportedly promising 30 minutes of duration, so he must be thinking avgas or Jet A fuel, not rocket fuel. But if Martin’s unit uses a small jet engine to power the ducted fans, maybe it can still be called a jetpack. Bet it makes the Neiman Marcus Christmas Catalog.


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