March 9, 2010 weblog
Company to sell 'world's first practical jetpack' for $75,000 (w/ Video)
Taking a leap into the future, the New Zealand-based Martin Aircraft Company plans to start selling commercial jetpacks to anyone with an interest and $75,000.
As a recent article in The Telegraph has reported, Martin has partnered with an unnamed international aircraft company, resulting in enough capital to produce 500 jetpacks per year. The partnership has brought the jetpacks closer to reality compared with a year ago, when Martin’s goal was to produce 10 units at $100,000 each.
As Martin jetpack inventor Glenn Martin demonstrates in the video below, the 200-horsepower, dual-propeller jetpacks seem to offer all that one could hope for in a personal flying machine. The jetpack can travel for about 30 minutes on a five-gallon tank of premium gasoline (the same used by cars). Tests have shown that the jetpack can reach top speeds of 60 mph, giving it a range of 30 miles per tank. The newest model can also reach heights of 2,400 meters (about 1.5 miles).
Since the jetpacks weigh less than 254 pounds, they don’t require a pilot’s license to fly. However, Martin says that buyers will be required to go through training before taking to the skies. The jetpack is also equipped with a low-altitude emergency parachute.
The jetpack, which can lift up to 120 kilograms (265 pounds), has two propellers that generate lift. The air in the propellers moves at about 300 km per hour, creating an upward thrust. The pilot uses both hands to fly, one on the throttle and one for steering. A flight display in front reveals information such as what the engines are doing and where it’s going. If the pilot lets go of the controls, the jetpack hovers in one spot. This self-righting mechanism occurs since the center of mass is below the jetpack’s center of pressure, which is located at the bottom of the ducts (near the pilot’s shoulders).
Although the company is on the cusp of commercialization, the project itself has been almost 30 years in the making. Glenn Martin began working on a concept in 1981, which was later verified by the University of Canterbury’s Mechanical Engineering Department. In 2005, the ninth prototype achieved sustained flight times, laying the foundation for pre-production development.
Later this year, Martin plans to begin production of the jetpacks at an undisclosed location outside of New Zealand. The company plans to market the jetpacks to emergency services, the military, and private users. As volume increases, according to its website, the cost may decrease to that of a “mid-range motorcycle or car.”
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