Back in 2008, Glenn Martin, an inventor based in New Zealand, took the wraps off "the world's first practical jetpack," a device memorably described by Monitor staffer Chris Gaylord as "two massive tea cups" that roar "louder than a pack of angry leafblowers." At the time, the contraption seemed more pipe dream than practical transportation platform.
But this week, Martin said he would begin mass producing the Martin Jetpack at a rate of 500 pairs of "massive tea cups" a year. Martin Aircraft Company exec Richard Lauder told the Daily Mail that he envisioned the jetpack serving a variety of roles, from private use to emergency rescue. "This could be life-saving stuff. For us this is an excellent commercial step."
For us, the jetpack sounds less like a rescue tool and more something that folks will need to be rescued from. Close your eyes and imagine a sky full of part-time Rocketeers, zipping from home and to the mall, and then to pick up little Johnny from school. And you thought rush hour traffic was bad now. No word on how regulators will control use of the Martin jetpack, although the Daily Mail reports that the device is so light that consumers won't need a pilot's license.
Let's run down a few of the pertinent stats:
- The Martin Jetpack weighs measures 5-ft. by 5.5-ft., and weighs just over 500 pounds. The Jetpack is built out of carbon fiber composite.
- Fuel capacity is 5 US gallons. Range is 31.5 miles, and the Jetpack can speed at 60 m.p.h. to an estimated altitude of 8,000-ft.
- The Jetpack comes equipped with flight and engine displays, a "ballistic parachute," and an energy absorbing undercarriage, in case you bump into the neighbor's garage.
The Daily Mail estimates that the Martin Jetpack will cost about $76,000 – the price of a very nice sports car. The question is this: How many folks with some extra pocket change are likely to choose an untested commodity such as a jetpack over a tried-and-true standby such as a bright red Porsche? (Or, maybe a water-power jetpack is your thing.) We at the office are split, so we'll leave that discussion up to you.