Al Marsh

De-hyping of the Jetpack

July 31, 2008 by Alton K. Marsh, Senior Editor, AOPA Pilot

The Martin Jetpack has been hyped by one and all, including me. Now it’s time to go the other way.

First, as fellow Senior Editor Dave Hirschman notes, it can’t fly as high as Michael Jordan can jump. I wanted more altitude today during the demonstration at EAA AirVenture. Second, it seems a bit wobbly, difficult to control. It came to airshow center with two people assigned to hover by its side during the flight, grabbing training handles on either side to steady it should that be necessary. So if you buy a Martin Jetpack (really it’s a ducted fan), my question is this: Do you have to hire two people to follow you as you scoot just above the ground? Would I pay $100,000 for one? A better investment is to get in shape like Michael Jordan, and learn to jump. Or as Dave Hirschman says, “Buy a trampoline.”

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4 Responses to “De-hyping of the Jetpack”

  1. Dave Says:

    Jetpack? It sounded like a 2 cycle gasoline engine to me. The workmanship was good and the idea was good but not a jetpack or rocket belt. This should have been called a gasoline engine powered ducted fan flying machine. I don’t know how high it flew as we left when they tried to pull an airplane through the crowd that was around the martain machine, I refuse to call this a jetpack.

    I do not want to take away from this man’s work as if it flys and he has worked with the new materials and engines to make a flying back pack good for him. His workmanship is also very good. But a jetpack it is not.

    Dave

  2. Dan Miller Says:

    I disagree, in talking to both EAA and FAA, I found out the Martin people were required by the FAA to fly no higher than could be handled by the ground team. They were also required to have the ground team there. Both a NYT reporter and a hotel owner were able to fly it to a low hover on their first flight, so at first glance it seems fairly simple to fly and stable. Is it a jet pack? No. It’s a ducted fan. Is it practical as transport? No. It’s suppose to be a motorcycle of the sky (of sorts). And it looks like their video and demo showed the potential.

  3. Michael Lloyd Says:

    This thing has all the cool factor of the much derided Segway- none. It just looks goofy, and as Cessna’s marketing department “discovered” in the ’70′s when selling business jets to executives, airplanes (and cars, boats, other expensive toys) are purchased primarily for emotional reasons (they look cool), and justified for economic reasons. The bottom line is that if the cool factor is missing, the customers will likewise be absent.

  4. Al Marsh Says:

    The engine is based on a Mercury outboard marine engine and shares many common parts. The engine was developed with the help of five former Mercury employees. And it sounded like an outboard engine–no surprise there. The 16-year-old son of the inventor said while he would like to fly higher than you see in our videos (the company test goes to five or six feet) he is concerned about two things: falling and hitting the ground. There may have been restrictions on their altitude, but they wouldn’t have gone high in the first place. Never have.

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