Posts Tagged ‘jetpack’

“Piston” pack reaches 5,000 feet

Monday, May 30th, 2011

The Martin Jetpack, really a piston-engine pack powered by a derivative of a Mercury motorboat engine, has reached 5,000 feet above New Zealand with a mannikin simulating the pilot. It should be ready for delivery, the company says, in 18 months. However, it came to Oshkosh in 2008 able to hover at only a few feet with two assistants to steady it, and the promise then was that it was ready for delivery in 2009. See it fly here, and parachute back to Earth. I recall doing an interview with the developer’s high-school-age son, then the company test pilot, and asking him why he didn’t fly higher than a few feet. “Because I don’t want to fall and I don’t want to hit the ground,” he said then. The developer’s first test pilot was his dedicated and supportive wife. It descends under a parachute, although the design calls for it to land under its own power. The developer, Glenn Martin, said use of the chute was a test of the emergency landing system, but the video was cut so as not to show the actual impact of landing. The machine was damaged–the mannikin had no comment.

The not-yet jetpack

Monday, April 11th, 2011

The Martin Jetpack has now reached 100 feet, under radio control and with a dummy aboard, in New Zealand. By now, the goal it should have reached is the one where depositers get their machine. When it was shown in 2008, it could rise only six feet. The pilot (the inventor’s son) said he didn’t want to go higher because in his words he didn’t want to crash, meaning the craft didn’t have the stability it needed. Now, a computer keeps forward speeds and climb speeds low to prevent a loss of stability, but it does climb to 100 feet. It’s always been a bit of an odd duck. It uses the term jetpack, yet it is a ducted fan driven by a gasoline engine built with advice from the outboard engine industry. It even sounds like one of those Mercury motorboat engines, although the inventor says he built it himself. Deliveries were to start in 2009 according to my 2008 story, but didn’t. I recall the “managed” press image this machine enjoyed when it was shown at Oshkosh. There were few straight answers for reporters who didn’t have the inside track. I wasn’t allowed to fly it because a CNN reporter was promised the scoop. I couldn’t see a preview flight because only the New Zealand press was invited. Now, I can wait.