One-man Martin JetPack demonstrated, if feebly


The Martin JetPack isn't technically a jetpack — it uses two ducted fan propellers to provide 600 pounds of thrust. Inventor Glenn Martin showed off his device at the AirVenture show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, taking the system up to six feet for 45 seconds. He claims the JetPack should be able to reach heights of 6,000 feet for thirty-to-forty minutes, far longer than older single-person flying systems like the Bell Rocket Belt, which used hydrogen peroxide reacting violently against silver-lined gills.

But part-time Mythbuster and full-time Metafilter commenter Adam Savage isn't ready to call it success:

Am I the only one that sees 2 guys guiding this thing? I know I'm not but here's the thing: The bugbear with this type of vehicle isn't getting airborne, it's stability. He says that it can go to 8k feet for 1/2 hour. That's theoretically. I see a device going 1 foot off the ground with 2 big guys guiding it. In fact, I've seen not a single untethered pic.

I'd love it to be true, but I see too many warning flags. Sounds like a money raising stunt. Every time one of these companies is about to run out of money, they hold a "demonstration" and make a prediction that they'll be selling them within some short period of time. I doubt it. Moller's been predicting that people will be flying to work in 10 years, for the last 40 years.

Trek Aerospace spent millions on the stability problem, still are. Until I see this thing fly around a house without a tether and under the control of the driver, it's still snake oil. It's no better than that bloody Moller skycar imho.

Martin plans to sell the JetPack for just under $100,000 after further testing. I wish him the best of luck and offer my fragile, flailing body should he need a civilian test pilot.

Pictured: The £50,000 jet pack that lets you become a real-life James Bond []

Video after the jump.

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9 Responses to One-man Martin JetPack demonstrated, if feebly

  1. RedShirt77 says:

    You know what the difference between a hovercraft and a jetpack?

    Jetpacks clear trees.

  2. bardfinn says:

    I have to ask myself:

    What Would Dean Kamen Do?

  3. semiotix says:

    I’m not saying the venerated Savage is wrong about stabilization being a big issue, or for that matter that letting a NYT reporter fly two feet off the ground was a publicity stunt designed to raise money.

    HOWEVER, let’s keep a few things in mind. First of all, nobody has more than a couple hours’ experience on this thing. That’s from the article. Second, this is the only prototype, which took them years and years to hand-build. That thing those guys are holding onto is 100% of their enterprise, at the moment.

    So while not zooming off into the stratosphere is, indeed, not evidence that it could, it’s also not evidence that it couldn’t. It’s not evidence either way, because there are so many other reasons you wouldn’t let an untrained non-aviator pilot your experimental jetpack at a crowded airshow except under extremely constrained circumstances. Like, with two burly guys tethering you firmly to the near-ground.

    I think Mr. Savage is probably correct that not much will come of this. I’m also quite ready to believe that there are massive gnarly problems that they haven’t yet overcome, or even necessarily foreseen. But if they’re even remotely legit (self-deception doesn’t count against you for that) I don’t begrudge them some publicity in the meantime.

  4. celynnen says:

    “just under $100,000” !?! and what’s the transport speed?

    for ~$1800/yr I can take BART, which while sometimes smelly and containing rude obnoxious passengers, is far more economical, takes only a half hour to get me to work, and doesn’t include the inherent risk of crashing into the bay or a bridge or a seagull. It would take 55 years for that thing to break even in cost. I do not plan to still be working in the year 2063.

    however, there is a helipad on the roof of my building . . .

  5. Chrs says:

    Celynnen, that’s not counting the gas costs, and I don’t want to think about how low the mileage is! Probably burns through gallons of gas in that half-hour flight time.

    So having looked at the site videos, not just the airshow demo, more than 90% of the time those guys aren’t touching the handles. Even for the more complicated maneuvers like the figure 8, and that’s for extremely near-ground maneuvers. Quite frankly, you don’t have to care about drifting five feet to the left or half a foot down when you’re fifty feet up.

    At an airshow, with people crowded in fifteen feet away around your only prototype? You hold on for dear life.

    Basically, I’m getting the feeling I should start making money so I can afford it before I get old.

  6. Nelson.C says:

    Given that a Segway can manage a single axis of stability, is it stretching too far to suppose that one of these could manage two axes?

  7. GregLondon says:

    The hovering stability looks no worse than that of a small, two-seat helicopter. When you hover something really small, the best way to describe it is that it’s like standing on top of a three-foot diameter ball, trying to keep your balance. You’re always making minor corrections.

    Nobody’s going to be flying this to work, even if it flies. Unless they live and work far outside any city and any controlled airspaces, and unless they live and work in some place that is relatively low population density. You can’t just take off or land anywhere you want. If it’s an ultralight, you can never enter controlled airspace. Just because it’s an ultralight doesn’t mean the FAA doesn’t have restrictions on them.

    And if it’s a licensed aircraft, you need to keep clear of any building or structure to a five hundred foot radius from your aircraft. No one is going to be taking off in this in their suburban back yard and flying into the city with it. It’s waaaaayy too noisy.

  8. mmbb says:

    “In the first tests, probably Oct. 3, Wilbur was aboard while the glider flew as a kite not far above the ground with men below holding tether ropes.”

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