Jetpacks Get Manned Flight Tests in New Zealand

The maker of an actual jetpack just received permits to test fly it with actual pilots by New Zealand authorities.

Every day, someone complains about how boring and terrible the future is, because people were expecting to fly around in jetpacks by now, or at least by 1995.  There is even a band called We Were Promised Jetpacks, and as their name indicates, their music is kind of depressing, because they wanted jetpacks.  The problem is pretty obvious here.  But now, we no longer need to complain about the lack of jetpacks, because New Zealand authorities have granted inventor Glenn Martin a manned test flight permit for his jetpack, meaning jetpacks are actually very close to becoming reality.

Glenn Martin's company Martin Aircraft, based in Christchurch, New Zealand, is building the Martin Jetpack.  While the Martin Jetpack is more a vehicle than the backpack-sized flights of fancy that Hollywood has envisioned, the product is still viable.  In an unmanned test done in 2011, a prototype the Martin Jetpack successfully carried a weighted dummy up to 5,000 feet above sea level, proving that it could work.  The current prototype has its jets sitting around the user's waist rather than head, improving performance.  The Martin Jetpack also boasts a rocket-powered parachute in case things go awry.

The New Zealand Civil Aviation Authority, responsible for everything non-kiwi that flies in the country, granted the manned test flight permit with very strict rules.  For example, test flights are not allowed to exceed 20 feet above the ground, or 25 feet above water.  The Martin Jetpack can only be tested in uninhabited areas of New Zealand, which likely includes Peter Jackson's version of Middle-Earth.

Assuming the test flights go off without any hitches, the Martin Jetpack is expected to become available the middle of 2014 for use in military and public safety.  In 2015, a civilian version will follow.  The cost of the Martin Jetpack is likely to be incredibly expensive at $150,000 to $250,000, but the company expects costs to go down quickly.after release.  Pretty soon, we will indeed be flying around in jetpacks.

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