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Jet-powered human flight is on the horizon

Martin Jetpack's latest prototype flies at approximately 30 mph and has been flown by humans. The company hopes to bring the manned jetpacks to market within a couple of years.

After last year's successful 5,000 ft. elevation flight, Martin Jetpack, one of the world's leading jetpack researchers and developers, is continuing its quest to bring a practical jetpack to market.

The Martin Jetpack consists of a gasoline powered, two-stroke engine that drives twin-ducted fans capable of lifting the aircraft and a human operator off the ground and sustaining flight. It was designed with recreational use in mind, but it has many commercial and government applications as well. For safety, the jetpack has a ballistic parachute onboard and will crumple on impact to protect the operator. This partially computer-animated video shows some of the Martin Jetpack's commercial applications.

Martin Jetpack's latest prototype is flying at 50 kph (approximately 30 mph) in winds up to 15 kph (10 mph) and is being remote controlled for safety. This video shows one such flight:

The jetpack has, however, been flown by humans. This video shows one of the employees doing a demonstration flight, and this video shows five paying customers on test flights. An outdoor, manned flight is set for late 2012. According to Martin Jetpack's website, the craft is very easy to operate, though the company will require each customer to pass their training course before receiving a jetpack. Depending on your country of residence, you may not need a pilot's license to operate the vehicle; New Zealand (where the company is based) and the United States don't appear to require a license, for instance.

Martin Jetpack is currently on the verge of gearing up to bring the jetpacks to market. The company is seeking 100 investors of US$20,000 each to accomplish the following goals:

  • A manned jetpack for commercial and government use by mid-2013
  • A manned jetpack for personal use about mid-2014

One of the benefits of being one of the initial 100 investors is you get to be the first group of personal-use jetpack recipients! That is, you're ahead of the thousands of people who have already inquired about purchasing a jetpack. Of course, you will probably still have to pay the estimated US$100,000 purchase price.

Many of you likely remember seeing the Martin Jetpack featured in my unintentionally controversial TechRepublic's geeky gift guide for the top 1%. So, instead of assuming anyone actually has $100,000 to spend, I'll ask: If you had the $100,000 to spare, would you be one of the first in line for a Martin Jetpack? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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