Future Friday: Where Are Our Jetpacks?

Americans have been patiently waiting for personal jetpacks since the first Super Bowl — when in 1967 during half time two pilots astonished the crowd in attendance and millions more at home watching television, as they took to the skies over Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum with their rocket belts, created by Bell Labs.

It’s been almost 50 years since the momentous flight, and you nor non one you know still don’t have a jet pack collecting dust in your garage. Why? Popular Mechanics explains in this Feb. 3 article:

“A mass-marketed jetpack isn’t feasible for a few reasons. For one thing, humans just aren’t meant to fly. Being relatively squat and unwieldy creatures, we require a relatively large amount of force to lift into the air.

Other methods of airborne transport get around this issue by putting people in aerodynamic contraptions such as planes, or by mimicking more flight-friendly creatures, as a wing suit does. But a jetpack is meant to be something that straps to your back and carries you away. Creating that amount of lift with a rocket-propulsion system means burning a lot of fuel, so until recently even the best jetpacks could stay in the air for only about 30 seconds.”

Ky Michaelson, a jetpack-building enthusiast known as The Rocketman, says the future is in actual jetpacks, such as the Martin Jetpack. “The gasoline needed to power a jet turbine is 13 times lighter than the amount of hydrogen fuel needed to provide the same thrust, giving you more room for your fuel supply—you just have to deal with a jet engine strapped to your back.”

But keep in mind that Popular Mechanics claims a “mass-marketed” jetpack isn’t “feasible.” That may be true. But that doesn’t mean the technology doesn’t exist for thrill seekers brave enough to give it a try. One case in point is Troy Hartman and this video.  There are also some amateur daredevils, such as Fritz Unger, attempting flight on their own dollar. While this looks like a great time, we suggest you leave your airborne travel to the professionals of your favorite commercial airline.

If you want an experience similar to jetpack flight without all the fuss and muss of possibly dying, you can always buy or rent the JETLEV, which thrusts users into the air using a water-propelled jet pack. Now, doesn’t that seem like some wholesome and safe flying fun?