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Where’s My Jetpack?

We've wanted them since seeing 007 in Thunderball. Is Glenn Martin's jetpack finally the answer?

by
Charlie Martin

Bio

August 16, 2013 - 11:20 am
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James Bond flew one in Thunderball; Professor John Robinson flew one in Lost in Space, with some great Bernard Herrmann background music:

Nerdy kids like me looked at that and dreamed of having our own rocket pack, flying over the neighborhood, escaping from the bad guys. The real Bell Rocket Belt would have been a bit of a disappointment — total flight time less than 30 seconds, and you really don’t want to run out of gas. Still, I’d have gone for it, and I’m disappointed to discover that while a few of them still exist, pilots are limited to 175 pounds.

Maybe things are (heh, heh) looking up. A New Zealander named Glenn Martin — no relation to me, and as far as I know, no relation to the other aviation pioneer named Glenn Martin — has been working for years on his own version of the jet pack. His version solves some of the problems.

First of all, instead of using real rockets, this uses two ducted fans driven by a gasoline engine. This is not as inherently cool as a rocket, but it means that you can get pretty reasonable flight time.

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All Comments   (17)
All Comments   (17)
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It was also featured in the early '70's in Saturday Morning's "Ark II".
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
"Airborne, Airborne, have you heard...
I'm gonna jump out of a big-ass bird
If my Chute don't open wide
I'll make a hole a mile wide..."
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
I seem to recall a Popular Science level article in the late 60's that Bell was working on an air breathing 'jet belt' featuring a small [lunchbox size] gas turbine engine. The projected flight time was on the order of 30 minutes.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
It appears to have a problem similar to that of the helicopter, but without the solution.

If a helicopter takes off straight up, it spends part of that climb on the wrong side of the "dead man's curve." That curve is a plot of altitude vs speed, and if you are on the wrong side, you cannot autorotate and are too high to survive the crash. This is why helicopters normally take off at a low angle, gaining speed rapidly before altitude. You don't have that option on the jet suit.

One solution: get dropped out of a plane or helicopter at the start.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Do they state the altitude necessary for the parachute to be effective? Better question, can they increase the reliability to where the value proposition outweighs the risk. In addition to serious search and rescue work, you could see these things becoming the Harley Davidsons of future generations.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
No, but the same sort of scheme is used for zero-altitude ejection in fighters. I think it would be recommended to have the rocket pointed the right direction though.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
So, you're saying that rocketing your chute into the ground is probably going to be counterproductive?

Sure hope those fans are contra-rotating!
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
The thing is, I don't think those things are *ever* on the good side of the dead-man's curve. Induced drag from spinning the fans probably slows you down a little bit, but you're still going to have your feet for landing gear and 400 pounds of backpack.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
"manding"?

Search your text, Mr. Martin.

And really, even a brick would generate vortice and compression lift. If it had control surfaces and a runway long enough, a brick could theoretically be landed--and wow, what a ride! This jetpack would fall more like a lumpy rock.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Oh my god, a typo slipped through. Seppuku is the only choice.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Hey, at least you get an edit function!
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Tom, sadly, I don't. The way permissions are set up, on Lifestyle I can only edit until it's published.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Um.
Err.

Aah.


I'm aghast.

So you volunteer for this chickenshit outfit?
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
I thought that "manding" was a compression of "manhandling" and "landing", which is pretty much what a autorotation is about.
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Or just "mash" and "landing".
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
Or just mash, if it doesn't go well. =:O
49 weeks ago
49 weeks ago Link To Comment
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