We were promised jetpacks — and we just got them

During the 20th century, visions of the future normally included three things: flying cars, robots and jetpacks. Finally, the future is here.

Former Swiss fighter pilot Yves Rossy, now known as “Jetman” around the world, has been experimenting with modern interpretations of the classic jetpack for years. Rossy, who previously flew over Japan’s Mount Fuji in 2013, has reached speeds up to 186 mph and averaging 125 mph using jet-powered wings strapped to his back. On Wednesday, Rossy posted this incredible video of a formation flight with Aerobatics Champion Veres Zoltán in Dubai.  

Watch the incredible video

Jet pack nearing commercial launch.

New Zealand company Martin Aircraft say they are nearing a launch onto the industrial market next year, with prices expected to be around US$120,000 - 140,000 for the commercial model. The product will initially be marketed towards first responders such as fire and rescue services who could use it to cut through traffic or navigate to hard to reach places.

The unit can be flown either in person or via remote control, and runs on standard gasoline so you could “stop at a garage and fill it up”. A military model with more sophisticated features could cost as much as US$200,000.

The company hopes to have a more basic model available for the recreational market in 2015. While the company says the pack features a longer endurance than people might expect, it also has a ballistic parachute and roll cage in case of emergency. 

16th century painting features a cat with a jetpack

A researcher at the University of Pennsylvania was recently digitizing drawings prepared for a German prince who was trying to squash a peasant uprising in 1530, and came across, of all things, illustrations of jetpacks strapped to the back of our feline friends, with text accompanying: “set fire to a castle or city which you can’t get at otherwise.”

The treatise was written by artillery master Franz Helm of Cologne, who was said to have battled against the Turks in south-central Europe during a time when gunpowder was changing warfare. Apparently, he was a visionary.

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