“Piston” pack reaches 5,000 feet

The Martin Jetpack, really a piston-engine pack powered by a derivative of a Mercury motorboat engine, has reached 5,000 feet above New Zealand with a mannikin simulating the pilot. It should be ready for delivery, the company says, in 18 months. However, it came to Oshkosh in 2008 able to hover at only a few feet with two assistants to steady it, and the promise then was that it was ready for delivery in 2009. See it fly here, and parachute back to Earth. I recall doing an interview with the developer’s high-school-age son, then the company test pilot, and asking him why he didn’t fly higher than a few feet. “Because I don’t want to fall and I don’t want to hit the ground,” he said then. The developer’s first test pilot was his dedicated and supportive wife. It descends under a parachute, although the design calls for it to land under its own power. The developer, Glenn Martin, said use of the chute was a test of the emergency landing system, but the video was cut so as not to show the actual impact of landing. The machine was damaged–the mannikin had no comment.

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