By Eric Pettifor
Where is my jet pack? It has been the future now for at least 10 years, or so it seems from the perspective of someone who was alive when men landed on the moon for the first time. Some might say that was the beginning of the future. After all the 1958 edition of an encyclopedia I grew up with promised that one day man would land on the moon. A TV show I watched as a kid, Space, 1999 predicted the existence of a large moon base in operation by 1999. And, of course, who can forget that scifi classic, 2001, A Space Odyssey which not only predicted a moon base, but domestic flights to and from it on Pan Am? (If you’re too young to remember Pan American World Airways, it was a major airline which went out of business in 1991.)
It’s 2010, and not only is there no moon base, but still nothing as seemingly simple as jet packs. So I was very interested when I saw a story on Slashdot saying that they had been developed for sale by Martin Jet Pack.
Someone should sue them for false advertising. That’s not a jet pack, that’s a small helicopter with a person strapped to the front. Seriously, the thing hovers due to the action of rotating blades. And it’s so massive, how is the hero supposed to spring into action to save the scientist’s beautiful daughter from the space monster? To do that he has to already be wearing a jet pack that’s light enough to simply be part of the costume, otherwise by the time he gets to the hangar where it’s stored, gets strapped in, goes through the helicopter start up sequence and takes off, the poor girl has already been devoured! Get real!
Juan Manuel Gallegos of Tecnologia Aeroespacial Mexicana comes closer to the real thing with his hydrogen peroxide rocket belt.
Sadly, however, it is still too heavy and has such a short range that it will be of no use whatsoever in rescuing anyone in imminent danger from space monsters.
Perhaps the reason this science fiction device remains science fiction is that we require a science fiction fuel for the rocket, something which packs a huge amount of energy into a small amount of space. Or I suppose we could go really retro, back to a time before all things nuclear were considered bad, and develop an atomic rocket pack. That could be very cool. But you know the tree hugger types would get all up in arms about people flying around with nuclear reactors on their backs, even though they would be really, really small ones. Kill joys. How much longer must I wait to be a rocket man?
“And I think it’s gonna be a long long time…”
(to skip intro, go to time index 0:52)