Jetpack a drawcard for airshow
Martin Aircraft CEO Peter Coker says the Wanaka airshow will be the jetpack’s first public flight.
New Zealand’s high profile in international aviation since WWII will be further enhanced at next Easter’s Warbirds Over Wanaka International Airshow on 25–27 March by the demonstration of Martin Aircraft’s personal jetpack to the New Zealand public for the first time.
The jetpack, designed and developed by Glenn Martin, originally in Dunedin, has been on display at the airshow before—but as a static display. However, Martin Aircraft chief executive Peter Coker says that this time, “It will provide an opportunity for New Zealanders and international visitors to see first-hand the flight characteristics and unique opportunities.”
The Wanaka demonstrations is planned to be the first of a series of flight displays around the world.
The Martin Jetpack is as revolutionary as the helicopter or the autogyro when they were first developed in the 1930s and is designed to carry people or cargo at heights of up to 2100m at speeds of up to 80km/hr.
Rocket-powered jetpacks are familiar from James Bond movies and there continues to be widespread disbelief in the concept. However, Martin describes its product as the world’s first practical jetpack, based on a 200hp V-4 two-stroke motor, developed in-house by Martin and driving twin ducted fans.
The 200kg jetpack has an endurance of about 30min and was first demonstrated in July 2008 at the EAA’s AirVenture at Oshkosh, Wisconsin. On that occasion it was flown by Harrison Martin, the son of the designer/developer, but its restriction to a height of 1m led to widespread disbelief in the concept.
The commercial jetpack may be flown manually or by a remote control and the company plans to deliver the first commercial example during the second half of 2016. Cost is expected to be around $300,000 each.
At the same time the company also plans to release an unmanned version aimed at companies needing to transport goods over water or difficult terrain. The jetpack is seen as having potential for search and rescue, and military, recreational and commercial purposes.
In 2010 Time magazine named the Martin jet pack as one of the top 50 inventions for that year. It was designed and developed by Glenn Martin in 1981, after which he moved to Christchurch and founded the Martin Aircraft Company in 1998. The need for capital for further development led to outside shareholders buying into the company and earlier this year it was listed on the Australian Stock Exchange.
Three months later Glenn Martin resigned as director, although retaining a 15.9 percent stake in the company.
He was reported to be opposed to the commercialisation of the jetpack, which he saw as a recreational vehicle.
The rest of the board thought differently and saw little future for it solely as a recreational vehicle at its high cost, increasingly focusing on developing an aircraft for professional applications such as police and search and rescue.
Peter Coker says discussions are under way with various authorities to enable the jetpack to conduct a series of public flights.
The Wanaka demonstration will be the first in a series of public flight displays to show the potential of the jetpack for numerous applications.
- Report by John King, photograph supplied by Martin Aircraft.
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