Crowds packed Aeroshell Square to see the first-ever manned jetpack flight at AirVenture – and it was over before most onlookers could see.
The longest flight so far has been five and a half minutes and never higher than six feet. Most flights last 40 seconds, like yesterday’s did, and most of the crowd could only see the top of its white composite frame.
Development of the Martin jetpack is still underway, but in one year ten models could be built and flying thirty minutes at altitudes of 500 feet. The current cost is $100,000
"We're doing a very safe testing program," says Glenn Martin, a biochemist from New Zealand who spent 30 years on the project. Sustained flight was reached in 2005 with the ninth prototype. "The key feature I spent the first few years on was developing a torque-neutral fan system," he says, "We ended up designing our own airfoils.
Mostly for the fan system, but also for the straighteners."
Mercury Marine of nearby Fond du Lac will be the engine manufacturer if orders are high enough, and one of their engineers spent the last three years completing the engine. The two-liter Maring V4 Engine is powered by unleaded gasoline, weights 130 lbs and produces 200 hp.
Harrison Martin, Glenn's 16-year-old son, flew Tuesday and is a primary test pilot. "Training for the average person would probably take a week, but when we're selling them it comes with a two week training program in New Zealand," he says. He once flipped during testing, but modifications since have prevented further crashes like that one. A recover chute from BRS is installed.