Jetpack up and away

By AAP and AG staff 30 May 2011
Reading Time: 2 Minutes Print this page
A jetpack invented by a New Zealander is one step closer to commercialisation after lifitng 1.5km off the ground.

A NEW ZEALAND-INVENTED jetpack has reached 1.5km, above sea level, a major leap towards commercial production, its developers say.

Up until now Glenn Martin’s experimental personal flying machine has only ever ground-hopped, but with a crash test dummy in the pilot’s position and flown by remote control it flew to 1.5km, then down to about 670m before parachuting to safety on the Canterbury Plains a few days ago, TV One’s Sunday program reported.

Martin has spent the past 30 years and $NZ12 million ($A9 million) in savings and venture capital on the project, and hopes the successful test will bring more investment and ultimately mass production.

Top 50 best inventions

The 115kg Martin Jetpack relies on two powerful ‘superfans’. It has the ability to fly for half an hour or more, climb more than 330m per minute and to cruise at 100km/h.

Last year, the jetpack, which runs on ordinary petrol, was named in Time magazine’s 50 Best Inventions list. However, when it was shown bouncing just off the ground at the Oshkosh Air Show three years ago it was ridiculed by industry professionals.

Martin says that only left him more determined. “This successful test brings the future another step closer,” he says. “We limited the jetpack to 800ft/min (266m/min) climb so the chase helicopters could keep up,” he adds.

It was a major step towards commercial production of the world’s first practical Jetpack, he says, and the Martin Aircraft Company aims to have first deliveries of both the manned and unmanned versions to key customers within the next 18 months.

Miltary interest

Martin Aircraft chief executive Richard Lauder says the Christchurch-based company was now in an intensive testing period to refine technology and performance over extended and continuous hours of operation.

“In the past two years we’ve gone from unveiling a world-leading invention to a company on the verge of international commercialisation of both the manned and unmanned versions of the jetpack,” he says.

Martin Aircraft had received substantial interest from governments, military and emergency services around the world, along with many in the general aviation sector which are interested in being one of the first to own a jetpack, Richard says.