Jetpack makes it first public flight in AeroShell Square
Tuesday morning in front of a large AirVenture crowd. Photo by
Jetpack made its first public flight while at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh
2008 on Tuesday. The actual flight lasted seconds and was confined to a
few feet off the ground, with handlers gripping the device even as
16-year-old Harrison Martin manipulated the controls. The Martin Jetpack
team is scheduled to conclude Thursday's air show with another flight at
the mouth of AeroShell Square. More air show flights may take place
later in the week as well.
flight was certainly an AirVenture moment; thousands of visitors crowded
AeroShell Square to watch. Long-time AirVenture observers said they
believed it was the largest crowd, aside from concerts, ever to gather
for an event on AeroShell Square.
The crowd was
so thick, and the flight was so low, that some couldn't quite see what
happened. A man in a t-shirt that proclaimed his status as a pilot
wasn't convinced after the flight ended. "I can't vouch for it. All
I heard was a weed eater going on."
Matt Evens of
Arvada, Colorado, was positively enthusiastic. "I'd fly it; it
would be fun." He explained: "This is one of the attractions I
really wanted to see."
Metra Peterson from Athens, Ohio, said before the flight, "It has
been my dream since I was a little kid with Weekly Reader, and it said
'you're going to get to fly to school.'" Metra and others in the
crowd first learned of jetpack travel in the early 1960s when a rocket
pack lifted a pilot high overhead in movies and occasional shopping mall
junkets. The Martin Jetpack team hopes to make such flight more
practical by avoiding exotic fuels and designing a machine with robust
the Jetpack Works
Martin demonstrates how to operate the jet pack.
Waiting for the
flight to take place, Mike Capps of Burlington, Iowa, pondered whether
he would like to fly the Jetpack. "If they've got the bugs worked
out, yeah…wouldn't have to have a hangar to store it!" Capps'
wife, Cheryl, seemed more conservative: "I don't think so,"
she said with a chuckle as she tried to imagine what it would be like.
Standing near the Capps, fellow Iowan Gary Whitcombe of Cedar Falls
enthusiastically replied: "Oh absolutely!" when asked if he
would like to fly the Jetpack.
Martin, son of the Jetpack's designer Glenn Martin, said he has made
hundreds of flights with the machine, up to an altitude of about seven
feet above ground level (AGL). The team expects to be able to reach
8,000 feet. Harrison said normal operations are forecast at around 1,500
to 2,000 feet. Range of up to 30 minutes is expected, he said, depending
on pilot weight. A top speed of more than 60 mph is envisioned, Harrison
said, although the flight envelope has not yet been expanded beyond
jogging speed now.
wraps until Tuesday, the Martin Jetpack was test flown in secret at an
undisclosed location near Fond du Lac over the past week, a team member
said. During the demonstration flight event the Martin team announced
the Jetpack is going on sale, and orders can be made at AirVenture 2008
with a $10,000 deposit.
The device is
powered by a purpose-built V4 gasoline engine delivering 200 horsepower
at 6,000 rpm. It drives carbon/Kevlar composite rotor blades. The team
says systems are redundant, a ballistic parachute is available, and the
undercarriage is meant to absorb impact.