Talking non-traditional ways of flying, New Zealand's Martin Aircraft is making progress towards production of what it calls the first practical jetpack, with manned and unmanned flight tests of its latest prototype.
Manned flights of Martin's 12th prototype of the ducted-fan JetPack, the sporty-looking P12 (above), are to resume later this year after modifications to reduce vibration from the 200hp V4 two-stroke engine (which is mounted vertically behind the standing pilot).
P12 tests are planned to result in a pre-production design for Martin's first saleable JetPack, which will be aimed at first responders (such as fire services) and which is planned to be available in 2014. You will have to wait a bit longer for a personal JetPack.
The JetPack is a serious design. Flight control is fly-by-wire and it comes as standard with a ballistic recovery parachute, linked to the engine so it deploys automatically if it malfunctions. The undercarriage and frame is impact-absorbing and there is a flotation device in case of a ditching.
Martin is aiming for a maximum speed of 40kt and a 30kt cruise, 30km range and 30min endurance. In addition to first responders, the company says there is interest from the military and for uses ranging from border patrol and search-and-rescue to corporate events and "jetpack experience" thrill rides.