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EAA AirVenture Today is published by the Experimental Aircraft Association for EAA AirVenture from July 27 - August 3. It is distributed free on the convention grounds as well as other locations in Oshkosh and surrounding communities. Stories and photos are copyrighted 2008 by EAA AirVenture Today and EAA. Reproduction by any means is prohibited without written consent.


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The official daily newspaper of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh

Volume 9, Number 4 July 30, 2008     

Jetpack jumpstarts at AirVenture
By Frederick A. Johnsen

The Martin Jetpack  makes it first public flight in AeroShell Square Tuesday morning in front of a large AirVenture crowd. Photo by Tyson Rininger

The Martin 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.

Yesterday's 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."

Audience member 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 flight duration.


How the Jetpack Works
Glenn Martin demonstrates how to operate the jet pack.
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larger video

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.

Pilot Harrison 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.

Kept under 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.

FUTURE AIRVENTURE DATES: 2014: July 28-Aug. 3; 2015: July 20-26; 2016: July 25-31; 2017: July 24-30
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