Jet-Pack Shoots to 5,000 Feet in Test Flight

Test flight prompts buzz among jet-pack fans.

The Martin Jetpack reached new heights during its test flight in Canterbury, New Zealand, this weekend, giving momentum to those attempting to develop a modern-age rocket belt.** **

The Martin Jetpack, which was first introduced to the public at Oshkosh in 2008, contains a 200-horsepower engine encased in a carbon fiber composite structure that spans approximately 5 feet in height, width and length. Initially conceptualized nearly 30 years ago by Glenn Martin, the product is designed to fall into the FAA’s ultralight aircraft category and aims to provide a commercially viable system for both manned and unmanned sustained jet-pack flight.

During its recent test flight, an unmanned version of the Martin Jetpack equipped with a weighted pilot dummy climbed to an altitude of 5,000 ft at 800 ft per minute, bettering its previous peak altitude of 50 ft and its prior maximum climb rate of 100 ft per minute.

The recent test also included the first deployment of the Jetpack’s Ballistic Parachute safety system, addressing an important concern: How pilots using the device would avoid becoming anvils if the engine quit.

In a press release issued by Martin Aircraft Company, Martin said the test, “validated our flight model, proved thrust to weight ratio and proved our ability to fly a Jetpack as an unmanned aerial vehicle, which will be key to some of the Jetpack’s future emergency/search & rescue and military applications.”

While the test was a success on many fronts, the question of whether the jet-pack can provide a realistic system for personal transportation is still up in the air. The device holds only a half hour’s worth of fuel, and a number of safety concerns surrounding the jet-pack have yet to be fully answered.

Initially developed as a product for leisure, company officials say growing interest in the Martin Jetpack from military and emergency services has broadened the prospective commercial outlook for the aerial vehicle. The product currently has an estimated price tag of $100,000.

Martin Jetpack's test flight is one of many recent firsts for the rising realm of jet-packs. Just a few weeks ago, Yves "Jetman" Rossy made history by completing an eight-minute flight over the Grand Canyon with his jet-propelled wing strapped to his back.