Those of us who grew up thinking the year 2000 would bring jetpacks and hover cars finally have something to look forward to: the world’s first commercially available jetpack is set to go on sale in 2016. The P12, an updated version of the Martin Jetpack, could soon be available to buy for the low price of $150,000. Once the dream of a New Zealand university student named Glenn Martin, the pack flies up to 3,280 feet off the ground, and landings occur by parachute.
At the Paris Airshow last week, the latest version of the P12 was available for visitors to see and a simulator available so anyone could find out what it would be like to fly in a jetpack. The jetpack utilizes VTOL, or Vertical Takeoff and Landing technology, enabling it to take off and land in a vertical fashion. This also enables the user to get to places where a helicopter can’t go, including rooftops with wires and antennae or mountainous areas.
Using a V4 200 horsepower gasoline engine, the motor drives two duct fans and flies for more than 30 minutes at a time. It can also travel up to 74 kilometers per hour and can carry a payload of 120 kilograms. Martin Aircraft, which was valued at over $100 million USD, believes the jetpack isn’t just for rich thrill-seekers. It can also be utilized by emergency responders and search and rescue missions. First responders, CEO Peter Coker told Reuters, could see a vast improvement in their ability to see a situation, enhance water security, perform better water or beach patrol or other important surveying and rescue missions.
The jetpack has a “composite structure pilot module,” Coker said, that keeps the pilot safe in the event of an accident. It also has a ballistic parachute system (think Top Gun) that can launch and bring an aircraft back down safely from even just a few feet. “This is built around safety from the start,” he said. “Reliability is the most important element of it. We have safety built into the actual structure itself. Very similar to a Formula One racing car, and finally what we actually have is a new ballistic parachute that is the basis of recognizing the way that we can be as safe as we possibly can. It opens at very low altitude and actually saves both the aircraft and the pilot in an emergency.”
Airshow visitors were able to feel how the jetpack moves by using an Oculus Rift headset. Having a simulator allows the public to see what the jetpack can do and what the experience is all about, Coker said. First deliveries of the jetpack can be expected towards the end of 2016.
Images via Martin Jetpack