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A New Jetpack Will Let You Fly Like Bond in Thunderball

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One scifi fantasy just got real. Last week, New Zealand inventor Glenn Martin introduced what his company is calling “the world’s first practical jetpack.” It won’t help you improve your Bobo Fett costume for next year’s Comic-Con (it’s just too big for the bounty hunter) but it will help you fly like Bond in Thunderball .

The U.S. Military tried to create a jetpack in the ’50s and in 1961, their most successful version, Bell’s Rocket Belt, took flight. On the plus side, it looked a little like artist Frank Paul’s fantastic depiction of a jetpack on the 1928 cover of Amazing Stories; the downside was that it could only fly for about 30 seconds. That’s the reason Martin’s technology, despite it’s more cumbersome
look, could be the one that brings jetpacks out of science fiction and
into people’s lives: It can fly for 30 minutes. According to the company website, “the Martin Aircraft Company was founded in 1998 specifically to develop a jetpack that could fly 100 times longer than the 26 seconds of the Bell Rocket Belt.”

“If someone says, ‘I’m not going to buy a jetpack until it’s the
size of my high school backpack and has a turbine engine in it,’ that’s
fine,” Martin told The New York Times. “But they’re not going
to be flying a jetpack in their lifetime.” After 27 years in
development, his current model (the 11th) debuted last week at
Wisconsin’s annual air show, EAA AirVenture, and he hopes to begin
selling them next year for $100,000 apiece.

John Schwartz of The Times gave the pack a powerful endorsement:

With
the startling power of its twin rotors and its 200-horsepower engine
behind my shoulder blades screaming like an army of leaf blowers, it
felt almost as if I were doing the lifting myself, with muscles I did
not know I had. It felt like living in the future — and, even better, the future we imagined back when it was something to be hoped for rather than feared.

All
you need now is money and this new recreational vehicle could be yours
— since you’ll also need to be able to afford the premium gasoline
used to run its piston engine.

[Image courtesy of Martin Jetpack]

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