Communion Of Dreams

OK, so it isn’t exactly The Rocketeer . . .

. . . but the announcement that there is a functional personal flying device to be revealed today is still pretty cool.

Why do I call it a ‘personal flying device’?  Because it isn’t really a classic ‘jetpack‘ as we’ve seen in plenty of cartoons and movies.  It is a large beast, weighing about 250 pounds, with twin fans each the size of a garbage can cut about in half.  And for safety purposes, there is a support frame which allows the pilot to climb under the thing and strap himself to it.  Hardly the ‘engine’ of The Rocketeer.  But all in all, not a bad start – this is functional, will fly for about 30 minutes (the longest classic jetpack such as James Bond flew could go for about 30 seconds), and is fairly stable.  From here significant improvements will be made.  And Glenn Martin, the inventor of the device, understands this:

Only 12 people have flown the jetpack, and no one has gained more than three hours of experience in the air. Mr. Martin plans to take it up to 500 feet within six months. This time, he said with a smile, he will be the first.

Mr. Martin said he had no idea how his invention might ultimately be used, but he is not a man of small hopes. He repeated the story of Benjamin Franklin, on first seeing a hot-air balloon, being asked, “What good is it?” He answered, “What good is a newborn baby?”


Jim Downey

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