Yesterday was the long awaited public unveiling of the next generation of jetpacks. Yes, the jetpack, which science fiction comics, TV shows and movies have promised us since at least the 1920s when Buck Rogers flew one.
In the 1960s, James Bond flew one in Thunderball and we were told they were right around the corner in real life.
In the 1990s, The Rocketeer had one and we were promised they were going to be available any minute.
Heck, just last month I saw Iron Man fly a jetpack built into his suit and as I drove away from the theater I noticed I was in a car, not a jetpack. Again. And I wept.
All that was supposed to change yesterday when the first long range personal human transporter was unveiled at an air show in Oshkosh, Wisconsin. The Martin Jetpack (details here) does make several noticeable improvements over anything that's flown before. It runs on regular gasoline, rises to about 8000 feet (although I am not clear why that is the top altitude), and, most importantly, allows one to fly for about 30 minutes.
On the down side, the technology is still nowhere near as compact as the backpack-sized device we've been expecting. Plus it's still about $100,000 - I know! - and seems like it might still have some stability problems on windy days like yesterday at the exhibition.
See the underwhelming video of that "flight" here but definitely check out MartinJetpack.com for updates periodically because this is a work in progress (and a lifetime labor of love for Mr. Glenn Martin) and they are headed in the right direction with it. Please let me live long enough to fly one one day. Even if it is literally the last thing I do.