Flying Jet Pack Debuts in Wisconsin

Secure in the shoulder harness of a 250-pound jet pack, 16-year-old Harrison Martin rose a few feet off the ground. With two fans at his sides providing upward thrust, he hovered for about 45 seconds before settling back down on earth.

Martin Jet PackMartin Jet PackThe demonstration, held Tuesday at AirVenture Oshkosh 2008 in Wisconsin, showed to thousands of onlookers that the sci-fi-like flying device may one day become a reality for consumers.

The jet pack is the creation of Glenn Martin (Harrison's dad), who designed the prototype to conform to the Federal Aviation Administration's definition of an ultralight vehicle, which weighs less than 254 pounds and carries only one passenger. With these criteria, flyers won't need a pilot's license.

Because the machines cost around $100,000 and are prohibited from flying over congested areas, they will probably be used for recreational purposes, at first. Martin predicts the jet packs will start out as toys for the wealthy, and then possibly for the military, border-patrol officials and search-and-rescue teams.

Martin's jet pack can theoretically fly an average-sized pilot about 30 miles in 30 minutes on a five-gallon tank of gas. He's currently still refining the safety features, which include an emergency parachute for heights above 400 feet and an impact-absorbing material to soften short falls. At AirVenture, Martin began taking orders for jet packs to be delivered at next year's convention.

According to an AP article, two other companies are also currently selling jet packs. Tecnologia Aeroespacial Mexicana in Cuernavaca, Mexico, makes a "rocket belt" powered by hydrogen peroxide. The $125,000 belts can hoist a person for about 20 seconds, and have been used at halftime appearances at football games.

Jet Pack International in Denver is also developing a few models that run on hydrogen peroxide and jet fuel, with hundreds of potential buyers on waiting lists. Its $200,000 jet pack can carry a pilot for about nine minutes or 11 miles on its five-gallon tank.

Below is a video of the AirVenture demonstration:


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via: AP news