Jetpacks—proper, fully functioning jetpacks—are one of those technological innovations that have always seemed like they were on the cusp of becoming real-life modes of transport. Inevitably, someone would whip one up, start riding it around, and usher in a new age of personal air travel.
Over the years, we've inched closer and closer towards the everyday jetpack dream, all the while refining the hardware and design to create something that'd be as easy and safe to strap on as a backpack. While we still aren't quite there, businessman David Mayman and engineer Nelson Tyler are keeping the dream alive with the JB-9, their homemade, kerosene-powered jetpack.
In a brief exhibition to show off their engineering prowess Mayman took the prototype out to the edge of the New York Bay, fired it up, and took a leisurely flight around the Statue of Liberty.
Mayman, who ironically has a background in the mining business, says that while he and Tyler are testing the JB-9 out in limited runs, they envisioned the rig to be used for a wide variety of uses.
"It would be wonderful if one day this opens the door to a vast new industry of affordable personal air transportation with applications for search and rescue, law enforcement, disaster relief and recreation," Mayman told The Daily Mail. "We have just proved that personal flight is a reality, it's here and we will stay at the forefront of this."
Though the team's jetpack may not technically be the first, it's notable for a number of other reasons. In addition to being approved for flight by the US Federal Aviation Administration, is also one of the lightest jet-powered propulsion devices of its kind.
Despite packing two modified turbine jet engines, the "backpack" is light enough to be supported by a wearer unaided and small enough to fit into the backseat of a car.
Going forward, the pair plan on refining the JB-9's design even further, allowing for higher, faster, longer air-travel with better fuel efficiency.
"It was an incredible experience, one I have been dreaming of since I was a young boy," Mayman said of his flight. "But today is just the beginning."