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Almost every vision of the future includes people flying around with personal jetpacks strapped to their backs. But this vision of the future might finally be coming as soon as the middle or end of next year. Glenn Martin has been developing the Martin Jetpack since the early 1980s. It's been through several iterations, with the most recent version powered by twin-ducted gasoline fans strong enough to provide enough lift to carry a person skyward. The frame is made from lightweight carbon fiber and aluminum. Per the website, the Martin Jetpack can reach heights of up to 3,280 feet (1,000 meters) and run for about 30 minutes. The projected cost for not having to worry about who's going to be sitting next to you: a mere $200,000.
While these could be the ultimate status symbol for the adventurous filthy rich, they were actually designed with emergency responders in mind. Mike Read, the director of flight operations at Martin Aircraft Co. said, "With its small dimensions, it can operate in confined spaces, close to and between buildings, near trees or in other areas that large or very tall aircraft, such as helicopters, can't access." The Martin Jetpack uses ducted fans rather than fire to lift the rider off the ground, so you don't have to worry about getting burned by rocket fuel. Another issue: noise. The roar of the rocket fuel-powered engines would simply be too loud to use.
Plus, you'd need a lot of fuel to lift a person. The army tested a jet pack in the 1950s that stayed airborne for about 13 seconds and burned up 25 pounds of rocket fuel. To make a flight last long enough to be enjoyable, you'd need more closer to 900 pounds of fuel. If you were to factor in how heavy the engine would need to be to carry all that fuel... the logistics get problematic really fast. So, while technically jetpacks exist, they're just nowhere near perfect. With a little more innovation, we might get there someday.
The world's first commercial jetpack will cost $150,000 next year (The Guardian)
"Jetpacks could fly out of science fiction and on to the streets carrying first responders and millionaires next year."
The US Army Was Promised Jetpacks, Too (Vice)
"Despite movies and T.V. shows repeatedly telling us that personal jetpacks are right around the corner, the actual products have been expensive and impractical. But one company once tried to sell the US Army on the idea that jetpacks were the wave of the future."