Kiwi jetpack invention gets ready for domestic takeoff

November 5, 2010

The chance to fly a Kiwi-invented jetpack will be available in New Zealand early next year. Almost a year to the day after it first got worldwide attention, the Martin Jetpack is back on show at the United States’ annual EAA air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin, and Christchurch’s Martin Aircraft Company is also announcing plans to allow the public to try out a “low, slow” version. Christchurch will be the location for the first business offering jetpack flights, and the company plans to expand with franchises around the world. People will be able to fly a jetpack about a metre above the ground at no more than 10km/h in a carefully controlled outdoor area. The price will be around the same as for adventure activities such as bungy jumping. It will be a far cry from flying at 100km/h, which is the capability planned for the jetpack that will eventually be sold to the public. But Martin Aircraft Company chief executive Richard Lauder told the Herald that any of the 40 or so people who had already tried out the jetpack would say that even low and slow was “incredibly exciting”. Based on a concept developed in 1981 by Christchurch inventor Glenn Martin, the jetpack has attracted funding of almost $1.5 million, via the Government’s Foundation for Research, Science and Technology. Mr Martin said one of the most frequently asked questions had been, “When can I have a flight?” “To be able to fly solo in a fixed-wing aircraft can take 15 hours of flight training, but most people wanted