Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Flying high: Jetpack invention reaches 5,000ft as futuristic transport gets ever-closer to commercial use


Previous test: The Martin Jetpack has already completed a seven-minute test flight, which saw it climb to an altitude of 100ft

Travelling by jetpack used to be something only seen in science fiction.

But the first commercial suit could soon be on sale following another successful step on the flight towards production.

Over the weekend, a team of New Zealand inventors behind the Martin rocketman suit conducted a test flight that saw them soar to 5,000 feet.

Flying high: The jetpack soars above the New Zealand countryside as it reached heights of 5,000 feet during its ten minute test flight

In the test, carried out over the Canterbury region of the country, a dummy took the place of a passenger as it was flown by remote control from a helicopter.

And in another first, the suit then descended to 2,000 feet before deploying a parachute and landing, albeit with rather a large bump.

The flight lasted around ten minutes, making it the longest ever recorded.

On the way down: The jetpack is the first to deploy a parachute to help it land - even if on this occasion it was a bumpy one

The successful test brings the reality of flight by jetpack another step closer after 40 years of development by inventor Glenn Martin.

Mr Martin has spent NZ$12million on the venture, but now hopes to bring in more investment and possibly even start mass production.

This weekend's flight follows on from a test which took place in April that saw the invention reach 100ft and fly for seven minutes.

Take off: With a dummy as a pilot, the jetpack, which was flown by radio control from a helicopter, lifts off for its journey

The engine, fuel tank and pilot are positioned between and below the lift-fans to lower the centre of gravity and prevent the machine turning upside down.

While the tests are a huge advancement in bringing the device to the shelves, it is still unclear how aviation authorities will treat the jetpack.

Weighing just 250lbs, users in many European countries, including Britain, should not need to be licensed. However, the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration is still considering an official response.

Either way, Martin Aircraft Company said any attempt to fly the jetpack without professional instruction would be ‘extremely foolhardy’.

The company will require all owners to undertake an approved training programme before flying the aircraft with personal users taking delivery in around 18 months.

Sean Connery uses a Belt Rocket Belt jetpack in the 1965 James Bond film Thunderball. It could carry a man over 30ft-high obstacles and reached speeds of up to 10mph but had a limited flying time of just 20-30 seconds and huge fuel consumption

Martin Jetpack 5000ft flight - highlights

source: dailymail

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