SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY -- September 17, 2013 at 6:10 PM ET
Straight out of science fiction, the "jetpack" inches closer to reality
The AFP reported that the New Zealand company Martin Aircraft received permits for manned test flights for its jetpack prototype that it hopes to sell to consumers next year. The Wall Street Journal reported that at $150,000 a piece, the planned line of Martin Jetpacks can reach 7,000 feet in the air at the speed of 50 miles an hour.
The Journal goes on to explain that it's not quite a "jet" pack either.
Rex Kenny is manager for special flight operations and recreational aviation at the Civil Aviation Authority of New Zealand. It is pretty much up to him to decide whether jetpacks should be allowed. Part of the debate took off when the aviation official tried to fit jetpacks neatly into existing categories. Is it a helicopter? Is it an aircraft? Mr. Kenny studied the rule book and concluded it is neither.
"It's a misnomer to call it a jetpack because it is a ducted fan," says Mr. Kenny. "It's a lift device really. When we looked at our rules, microlight was the closest," referring to a lightweight craft for one or two passengers.