You ever wonder what happened when we hit the turn of the millennium a decade ago? That it’s 2010 now and some of us feel that maybe the old sci-fi movies have lied to us and sold us the vision of an unattainable future? Have you heard people grumbling about the lack of Back to the Future DeLoreans? Where are the hoverboards, the robots (despite the inevitable uprising that will exterminate the human race), the cloaking devices and the jetpacks?
I don’t know about most of those, but the robots are in Japan and the jetpacks are in New Zealand. For jetpack video awesomeness, go right here.
Here’s the deal: the Martin Aircraft Company from New Zealand is producing a commercial jetpack. For real. It’ll take you a mile high from the ground, it can go 60 miles an hour, and because it’s considered an ultralight aircraft, you don’t need a license to fly one. At least, you don’t need one in the U.S. There is a training program developed by Martin Aircraft that you need to pass, and they encourage you to get some sort of professional instruction anyway, because “to attempt to fly any aircraft without professional instruction is extremely foolhardy.” And all this can be yours for the low, low price of $85,000.
Of course, pilot safety is bound to be the first thing on everyone’s minds, right after “Holy crap, I can fly!” Naturally, you’ll want to know what would happen if, say, the engine stops when you’re a mile up in the air. Not to worry: there’s a ballistic parachute. That is, like an airbag in a car, it’ll deploy immediately if the engine stops. Martin Aircraft also explains how the jetpack is actually safer than a helicopter or a light aircraft, in that it is much easier to land if something goes wrong, though they do acknowledge that any aircraft use, ultralight or not, carries a degree of risk.
One other small catch: you have to weigh between 140 and 240 pounds to use this thing. But that’s a pretty big weight range, so many people will be able to try this thing out, provided the price tag isn’t too daunting. It takes a year from the date of purchase for the unit to be made.
So would you get one? I’m a little skeptical, seeing the great safety record we have operating cars, but I remain optimistic. If I had $85 grand just sitting around, hell yeah, I’d get one.