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$100,000 jetpack soars nearly a mile high

May 31, 2011 | 11:34 am


Here’s a concept: paying $100,000 to fly by the seat of your pants.

Jetpack maker Martin Aircraft Co. of New Zealand thinks it’s a fine deal. The company is wrapping up testing of a jetpack that could redefine the high-flying lifestyle.

This isn’t Bond’s Thunderball device:  In a test on Sunday, the jetpack (with a weighted dummy attached) managed to climb 800 feet per minute to an altitude of 5,000 feet -- that’s about 9 miles per hour. It could have gone 1,000 feet per minute if it hadn’t had to keep pace with the helicopter that was following it, according to the company.

The previous record was 100 feet per minute.

The 250-pound, carbon-fiber apparatus also has a ballistic parachute outfitted with tiny explosives that launch the canopy into the air regardless of how far the user has fallen. The parachute has been successfully tested, the company said.

Rocketeers can cruise horizontally at a bit over 60 miles per hour, the company said. To generate lift, a water-cooled piston engine spews air downward. The contraption holds enough fuel for a half-hour flight.

If the technology comes to the U.S., regulators will probably have a field day. But wealthy daredevils -- as well as emergency and search-and-rescue workers and military folk should have access to it in the next year and a half.

But the best part? No gridlock.


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Video: Martin Aircraft Co.