Is the use of jetpacks finally getting going?

Lee Coats

Lee Coates in the photo says flying with a jetpack is an “incredible feeling”

Lee Coates says that when you wear a jetpack and sprint in the air, you feel like you’re flying like a superhero.

“It’s an incredible feeling,” says a retired US helicopter pilot. “You really feel like you can fly.”

“In the first place, they are really hard to use.”

Jetpack first entered the consciousness of people around the world in 1965, thanks to the James Bond movie Thunderball.

The Super Spy, played by the late Sean Connery, is chased by shooters to the roof of the French chateau, where he takes off in a jetpack and escapes.

To make a dramatic start to the film, the jetpack in question, the Bell Helicopter, was developed in the 1950s as the US Army’s “Man Rocket.”

The U.S. military eventually decided it was too dangerous to use, but did a stunt double trick with Secret Agent 007, or at least Connelly.

James Bond landing a jetpack in the movie

In the photo movie “Thunderball,” James Bond landed a jetpack next to an Aston Martin car.

Fifty-six years later, jetpack technology has made great strides and equipment is being tested in a variety of professional applications, including the rapid placement of rescue personnel in emergencies and the Defense Forces.

actually, Last month’s dramatic video showed the Royal Marines testing a jetpack. It assists in maritime boarding operations and eliminates the need to rope off a helicopter.

But rarely discussed is the potential recreational use of jetpacks. Observers point out a number of problematic issues, from safety and environmental concerns to, after all, a jet engine fixed to the back, to regulatory hurdles and air traffic control issues. Often.

Still, two companies in the United States and the United Kingdom are paying for the average person to try a jetpack, even though users are wire-attached to a large metal frame to prevent them from flying out of control. Is allowed. ..

Will this become more popular? And will the tether be removed?

A man wearing a Gravity Industries jetpack

Companies say more and more civilians want to try jetpacks

“I think this technology will first be used in special cases before it is widely used in recreation,” said Benjamin Aki, an associate professor of mechanical and aerospace engineering at Syracuse University in New York. Stated.

“I’m thinking of firefighters, medical and rescue personnel, or law enforcement agencies … Widespread use of jetpacks in these special cases facilitates adoption in other areas such as recreation and personal travel. May be done. “

Daniel Levine, a trend expert at the Avant-Guide Institute, a New York City-based consultancy focused on travel and consumer trends, said that mass-produced recreational jetpacks are unlikely, but bespoke. He said he had experience with very expensive jetpacks. “It’s becoming more and more common, and users aren’t tied up.

“In the next five years, I think insurers will be able to rent jetpacks for the thrill-seekers of the rich in a country that doesn’t hurt their enjoyment,” he says. “My eyes are in Dubai,” he says.

“Once the technology is simple enough for the average Jane, personal propulsion vehicles will find a place-mainly as a thrilling vehicle.”

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Another well-established company in the jetpack space is California-based Jetpack Aviation. It was founded in 2015. We have already manufactured many versions of the “JB” series jetpacks.

In addition to considering opportunities in the military and emergency services sector, the company trains the general public to use the Federal Aviation Administration-approved JB10, twin turbojet engine jetpack, which operates on kerosene or diesel. Allows you to.

David Mayman, founder and CEO of JetPack Aviation, said the company was “overwhelmed” by the demand for two days of training and (connected) flights.

David Mayman, right, and colleague

David Mayman, right, jetpack says it’s not hard to fly

“We are overcapacity in terms of the number of people we can take. It’s crazy,” he says.

According to Maiman, the jetpack that his company advertises as an “empty Segway” can fly intuitively. Thrust and velocity are controlled by the pilot’s right hand, and directional movement is controlled by the left hand.

Computer screens, on the other hand, provide users with information such as fuel levels, engine, exhaust gas temperature, and battery status.

“The average person with average size and average health is fine,” says Maiman. “It’s based on the number of people we have already trained.

“You certainly don’t have to be a trained aviator or an existing pilot. In fact, it sometimes slows people down because they have to learn a lot.”

Jetpack Aviation Men using jetpack

Jetpacks have been tested for use by paramedics and the military

Jetpack Aviation is currently training about 80 people, and Maiman says many promoters have approached him in setting up experiential operations in countries such as Japan and Australia.

But it’s not cheap because you’re charging $ 4,950 (£ 3,600) for two days of training.

“It’s an expensive technology, so what we do is an expensive exercise,” says Maiman. [But] I think it will become more affordable over time [thanks to future technological advances].. “

In the UK, a rival company called Gravity Industries also allows the general public to try jetpacks with users attached to safety wires.

Gravity and JetPack Aviation, which offer jetpacks tested by the Royal Marines, say they have both started a racing league. These are done on the water for safety reasons.

Gravity actually planned to host the first race in Bermuda at Mach 2020, but had to put it on hold for a pandemic.

Richard Browning, the company’s founder, former oil trader and Royal Marines reserve, said the planned race series could include training for the general public to attend the event. It states that it is highly prone.

“I’m going to evolve this fairly organically, but I think it will train a lot of the general public,” he says.

“They tend to be wealthy and charismatic types of men and women. Once trained, I’d love to meet in iconic locations such as Monaco and the San Francisco Bay Area. Get a jetpack of company colors I’ve prepared for them. “

Richard Browning

Richard Browning’s company provided a jetpack being tested by the Royal Marines

He added that the race itself is likely to involve a jetpack-equipped racer plunging around the pylon and performing operations during the jetpack’s flight time (currently about 5-6 minutes). It was.

“It can pop up every few months in a variety of great places around the world,” Browning adds. “It’s the kind of model we were looking at. I want to prove this rather than make a hypothesis.”

Leigh Coates wants to race in Gravity Industries. She was, in fact, the first woman to fly a Gravity jetpack in 2019 without a tether.

She also flew on the JetPack Aviation in 2018, attached to a safety wire. She was also the first woman to use the jetpack.

“Flying a jetpack was my childhood dream,” says Coates, who lives in Alaska. “So when I learned about these two companies, I jumped at the opportunity.”

Additional report by Will Small

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