It’s not every day a simple click of the mouse can make you a test pilot.
Glenn Martin, the creative New Zealand designer behind the Martin Jetpack, is showing off his marketing creativity by auctioning off the chance to be the first person outside the development team to “be a Jetpack test pilot.” The eBay auction has a starting bid of $30,000 and includes six flights. By the end of your experience, Martin says you’ll be designated a Martin Jetpack test pilot.
Martin unveiled his Jetpack at the big AirVenture airshow in Oshkosh last year before a crowd eager to see the dream of a personal flight finally become real. It’s actually a ducted fan pack, not a jet pack, but that doesn’t have the same ring to it.
Though the initial flight was a bit less exciting than most expected — the guy hovered a few feet off the ground — the company has done more than 5,000 test flights. A video below shows off some of the machine’s maneuverability.
Martin does say the test pilot program will be designed around the winner’s experience level. An on board computer can “limit the Jetpack’s performance, to keep pilots safe.”
Looking to tap into a larger audience, Martin is looking at the tourism biz as possible market. Coming from New Zealand, the country that gave us bungee jumping and where jet boat rides are standard tourist fare, Martin is looking for partners to operate “Jetpack experiences.”
Such flights would allow novices to safely fly the machine “low and slow” at an “altitude” of 3 to 4 feet and no more than 6mph. He says the control and training system has been rebuilt from the ground up and makes it possible for a wide range of potential customers to take to the air.
“The result,” the company says, “Is a flight system where we can bring almost anybody in and with just a small amount of training they can be flying the Martin Jetpack with high levels of confidence and safety.”
No one’s seen a flight demonstrating the pack’s full capabilities. But Martin claims the 200 horsepower ducted fan machine is capable of flights to 8,000 feet and a range of more than 30 miles. Here in the states, the killjoys at the FAA would limit us to 63 mph and half an hour in the air.
As of this afternoon, there were no bids in the auction. The company says anybody over the age of 18 with a driver’s license and weighs less than 90 kilograms (198 pounds) can participate in the program.
Photo/Video: Martin Jetpack